I was in college and had just started a new part-time job at a florist and gift shop. One day the store’s buyer asked me to hang some new paintings throughout the store. “Don’t lose my hammer!” she told me as I left her office. After spending quite a bit of time hanging those works of art, I was asked by the manager to go to the bank to make a deposit. On my way there, I realized I didn’t know where the hammer was! It was my first weekend on the job and I panicked.
After making the deposit, I wanted a quiet place to just think for a while. I passed a Christian Science Reading Room. I knew I could go in there – my mom worked there. I went in and sat in the study room. The quiet and peace I felt there was just what I needed to be able to think clearly about this situation. In a short while, I remembered that I had put the hammer on an antique desk in the corner of the salesroom. I left the Reading Room, went back to the store, and there was the hammer – on the antique desk in the corner. This may not seem much to you, but to a college student who really needed a job to pay for college costs, this quiet place was just what I wanted.
You may have seen one of the Christian Science Reading Rooms located in towns all over Illinois. There is one on Jefferson Street in Naperville; one across from the Capitol Building in Springfield; and one in Chicago’s loop on Wabash and Wacker Drives. As a matter of fact, there are approximately 1500 Christian Science Reading Rooms, not only all over the United States, but in nearly 80 other countries! If you have seen one, you may have wondered, “What is a Christian Science Reading Room? What goes on in there?”
A Christian Science Reading Room is part bookstore and part library. Its purpose is to make available to the public resources that nurture spiritual discovery and healing. These include online as well as print materials. When you first go in, you will probably see a selection of Bibles and Bible resource books, as well as the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, available for purchase. A librarian will be there to greet you, answer any questions you may have, or just invite you to browse. You will also find the Pulitzer-prize-winning newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor; Christian Science magazines, which include authenticated testimonies of healing through prayer alone; and a variety of biographies on Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science.
One of the most unique parts of a Reading Room is the quiet study room where anyone can pray, read the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson, search back issues of Christian Science magazines (in print or online), or just think quietly like I did that afternoon years ago. These public places are a resource for anyone on a quest for spiritual understanding and are open to people of all faiths, backgrounds, and ways of life.
Each Reading Room is maintained by a local Christian Science church or churches, and is dedicated to helping visitors discover the peace, comfort, and spiritual solutions available to all from God.
There was another time when I worked at that florist shop when I needed to feel the quiet and peace of a Reading Room. I had been working all day and was suffering from a terrible headache. It was getting worse. I thought maybe I should just go home, but I was needed because of a shortage of employees working that day. I went to the Reading Room during my break, sat in a chair and just prayed, acknowledging the ever-presence of God’s healing love.
In a short time I felt at peace, and by the time my break was over, I was well. I went back to the shop and worked until closing.
Next time you pass a Christian Science Reading Room, I hope you will feel free to go in, look around, make a purchase, read, or sit and pray in an atmosphere of peace and healing.
©2017 Christian Science Committee on Publication for Illinois