Meeting the human need – women’s accomplishments rediscovered in March

Mary Baker Eddy
Photo courtesy of The Mary Baker Eddy Library

As March is National Women’s History Month, I’d like to recognize the achievements of two women.  Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, expressed exemplary devotion to humanity as a nurse.  This is summed up in her famous words, “You must never so much as think as whether you like it or not, whether it is bearable or not, you must never think of anything except the need, and how to meet it.”

Barton’s unselfishness, gallantry and self-abnegation were monumental, and a century after her death, her organization is still helping the victims of tragedy, violence and storms.  In view of this, what she said about one of her contemporaries is notable: “Love permeates all the teachings of this great woman, – so great, I believe, that at this perspective we can scarcely realize how great, and looking into her life history we see nothing but self-sacrifice and selflessness.” Continue reading

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What is a Christian Science Reading Room?

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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.

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What do Abraham Lincoln, Mary Baker Eddy and a chaplain at Cook County Jail have in common?

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I love to walk through Springfield – to pass Lincoln’s beautiful home on 8th Street (with its wooden sidewalks), the old Capitol building, his former law offices and the place where he attended church.  On my recent stay there, I once again visited the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum – one of my most favorite places.  I purchased a biography of the 16th President entitled 366 Days in Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency by Stephen A. Wynalda.

Even though I have read many books on Lincoln, this one included a quote I was unfamiliar with.  About his ideal church, Honest Abe stated, “When any church will inscribe over its altar the Savior’s condensed statement of law and gospel, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind, and love thy neighbor as thyself,’ that church will I join with all my heart.”  

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“A Friend like Me!”

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My children grew up loving the Disney-animated movie “Aladdin.”   One of their favorite parts was when the genie sings the song, “A friend like me.”  The lyrics include the words, “You ain’t never had a friend like me” – which hints at the possibility of unconditional friendship.  That may be a hard thing to come by these days, especially when life often seems so hectic, unstable, stressful.  It’s easy to feel alone and lonely.

I remember an interview I had a few years ago with Justin Wolfe, a clinical therapist at the Linden Oaks Outpatient Center.  He commented that often people turn to drugs and alcohol, mistakenly thinking these may alleviate loneliness.  Sadly, he stated, this often leads to addiction and psychological and physical harm.

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Treasuring Religious Freedom

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President Obama has declared January 16, 2017, to be Religious Freedom Day.  This day marks the anniversary of the passage, in 1786, of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom – a statute that its author, Thomas Jefferson, was extremely proud of.  Moreover, this day gives us an opportunity to further appreciate the United States Constitution and its Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment, which declares the government cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion in our country.

Voices as diverse as Congressman Mike Quigley from Chicago and Ann Romney, wife of former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, have defended and advocated the religious freedom of everyone.  Quigley has stated, “Protection of religious freedom means considering the faiths and beliefs of everyone involved.” And Romney said, “I think we recognize as Americans there are certain things that are just primary to the freedoms and liberties that we enjoy here, and religious freedom is one of the most important things we as Americans cherish.”

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The healing power of appreciation

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Everyone loves to be appreciated – to have their good qualities recognized.

The blog Little Things Matter, recognizing the importance and health-giving power of appreciation, wrote, “When you express your approval or gratitude by showing your appreciation for something [another has] done, you will not only enhance their lives, but you will enrich yours as well.  You will feel more fulfilled because you have done something to make someone else’s life better.”

Taking this a little further, when you realize that the good you and others express has its source in the divine, the results can be even more beneficial – in some cases, life-changing.

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Love More: a New Year’s Resolution

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Author and Christian healer Mary Baker Eddy once gave her students this advice when it comes to healing themselves and others, “I will tell you the way to do it.  It is to love!  Just live love – be it – love, love, love.  Do not know anything but Love.  There is nothing else.  That will do the work.  It will heal everything;…Be nothing but love.”

Over a hundred years later, author and physician Larry Dossey wrote, “If scientists suddenly discovered a drug that was as powerful as love in creating health, it would be heralded as a medical breakthrough and marketed overnight – especially if it had as few side effects and was as inexpensive as love.”

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Deck the halls with love and forgiveness

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I love Christmas.  Like so many other people, I enjoy immensely the illuminated decorations, the beautiful Christmas carols, and sending cards to friends and relatives. And although many of us are preparing for days of family-gathering and gift-giving, let’s not forget the great divine Love that brought to earth a Savior.  To me, that great, saving Love is as amazing and wonderful as Jesus’ virgin birth.

Increasingly, this holiday is a reminder to me not just of the birth of Jesus, but of his teachings and their promise in the world today.  Following these instructions fulfills the angels’ message spoken to the shepherds on that holy night over two thousand years ago:  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”  I find that I love Christmas more as I learn to live better Jesus’ teachings, especially the Sermon on the Mount, found in the gospel of Matthew, chapters 5, 6, and 7. Continue reading

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Sing!

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Many of us love to sing.  Ella Fitzgerald once said, “The only thing better than singing is more singing.”  This time of year offers so many great opportunities to sing – even if it is just at home singing Christmas carols.  So, if you love to sing, keep on singing – it can actually be healthy!

“Studies have linked singing with a lower heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and reduced stress,” according to music therapist Patricia Preston-Roberts.

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How would you define God?

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Last year The Huffington Post asked its readers to define God in one word.  Their top ten responses were: 10) Omnipotent; 9) Fiction; 8) Nonexistent; 7) Almighty; 6) Imaginary; 5) Amazing; 4) Creator; 3) Awesome; 2) Everything and 1) Love.  That certainly is a range of answers, and would seem very contradictory and even confusing.  How can there be so many different definitions of the same thing?

I remember a time when I took my family to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. My son was driving up a mountain on a very narrow road, and the rest of us were looking out at the scenery.  Each one saw something different.  I commented, “Wow!  Look at the snow!”  My wife remarked about the waterfalls.  My daughter loved the trees.  My son kept his eye on the road!  We all looked at the same scenery and the same location, but each of us marveled at something different.

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