January 22, 2004
The influence or action of Soul confers a freedom, which explains the phenomena of improvisation and the fervor of untutored lips.
Attendance at this meeting, always unpredictable, could not have been foreseen. It was itself an improvisation.
A long time member who has been caught up in other activities returned to our embrace and two Gay Christian Scientists visited to tell of their recent marriage in Ontario. (That'll someday be an interesting article or testimony in one of the Christian Science periodicals. How fortunate we were to hear firsthand how Love was demonstrated step by step in their relationship.)
Only a couple of the quotes studied by members during the week were read at the meeting. One said he studied our meeting notes on [#topic=20020131#] of 1-31-02, mining some of its thoughts and readings for current use.
We spent a moment on definitions and derivations. To improvise is to invent, compose or create without preparation or premeditation. It means literally "not provided"or "unforeseen"(vedere = to see). This allowed us a nice insight into Science. What is not provided or foreseen by dualistic mortal mind nevertheless flows fully as good from divine Mind.
Improvisation implies use of whatever's at hand. A member recalled Jonathan Winters (was it on Larry King?) taking a glass of water and improvising an elaborate comedy skit. "Students of Christian Science can dive into and through any material belief to find the nugget of divine reality at its center."
We talked of prayer. "It's best when it leaps with improvisation."A member told of a woman who did not relate to the so called scientific statement of being. It left her cold. However, once in great need, she took its first two lines ("There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all."Science and Health, page 468:9) and prayed with them. Suddenly she saw that there's no life in a material body, for Life is God; there's no truth in such a body, for Truth is God. She worked along these lines for a while and eventually understood herself deeply and fully as an infinite manifestation of infinite God. That healed her.
A couple of members talked during the week and came up with the idea that life is "one long improvisation."How could it be otherwise? Every time we move or open our mouths — we don't really know what'll happen. Even with the greatest planning and calmest nerves, there's always some element of surprise. And of course, there are those times when we intend one thing and have something totally different end up being conveyed.
In the practice of improvisation — if that's not a conflict in terms — we must be prepared to "lay it all out"for the discerning eye to see. A trusted friend, confessor or psychologist may be helpful in picking up on what's driving us — whether our divinity or something less grand, perhaps unconscious complexes or ingrained ways of thinking and being. If we feel safe enough to let ourselves speak from the heart, we may get a flash of what's handling us and be able to address it in Science. Self-righteousness and condemnation must be held at bay — but are themselves fair subjects for inquiry and healing.
One member described a discussion with a Christian Scientist jazz musician. He said he starts his performance listening for God's direction. He embraces the audience in his prayerful listening and becomes responsive to what's helpful for them. A reciprocal relationship develops and the activity takes on a life of its own. "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."(Matthew 18: 20)
Another member talked of a testimony she gave a few years ago at a Wednesday meeting after she'd read in a Christian Science periodical of a purported healing of homosexuality (which included a cruel ditching of a girlfriend, and the notice to all Gay people they too needed healing!). "I was literally lifted out of my seat. There was no way God would let me just sit there. I had to get up and show how unscientific that article was."Several non-Gay people came up after the meeting to show support. That was the last homophobic article to appear in the periodicals. (But recent reports from Germany, for instance, show it and others of its type are still lodged in reading rooms where unenlightened librarians recommend them for study.)
This launched us into a discussion of efforts by members of the group to help dismantle the last vestiges of homophobia in the Christian Science movement.
The main point, of course, is our individual study, prayer and living of Christian Science. Without that the rest would be shrill human will. As one member put it, "With the present sharp divisions in thought over homosexuality, many — Gay and non-Gay — are watching those who've identified openly as Gay for material to prove their case one way or the other."Another added, "We need to live Love moment by moment and look for opportunities to connect."
All agreed we can't look to Boston or wait on Boston for our demonstration. As with any material belief, any such looking and waiting would wobble back and forth from good to evil.
But Boston is the headquarters of the movement and the place where its periodicals are edited, if not mostly written. It's important for people in Boston to know our thinking and feeling on important subjects.
Those in our group involved in working with the Publishing Society to be more inclusive described the current status and efforts to develop a range of articles and testimonies on the Emergence International web site.
Ongoing initiatives to address the exclusion of openly Gay students and teachers at Principia were discussed. Two homophobic students who acted out on another student, who may or may not actually be Gay, were recently sent packing.
A member brought up the shrinking Christian Science movement. Most of us had bad memories of Christian Scientists who failed to live up to the radical vision offered by Science.
"I wonder if I'm someone else's bad memory?"
"Look, we have to understand there's no 'them and us' or even 'inner and outer' to the healing Christ that's the alpha and omega or I and Us of all existence."
There were a couple of sharp releases as when a member said, "After the way my mother was shunned by fellow church members when she went for medical treatment, I could never go back to a branch church. But I'm interested in Science and feel good about practicing it in a group like this."
For next week a member requested we look at Mind Reading — a subject he became interested in this week as he studied the chapter on "Christian Science Versus Spiritualism"in Science and Health. He recommends study of page 83:25 through 84:2.
We closed with a brief prayerful statement from a member to the effect that we should let no one take away our happiness — which is based in God.
And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth?
Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.
Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven. And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
Eloquence re-echoes the strains of Truth and Love. It is due to inspiration rather than to erudition. It shows the possibilities derived from divine Mind, though it is said to be a gift whose endowment is obtained from books or received from the impulsion of departed spirits. When eloquence proceeds from the belief that a departed spirit is speaking, who can tell what the unaided medium is incapable of knowing or uttering? This phenomenon only shows that the beliefs of mortal mind are loosed. Forgetting her ignorance in the belief that another mind is speaking through her, the devotee may become unwontedly eloquent. Having more faith in others than in herself, and believing that somebody else possesses her tongue and mind, she talks freely.
Destroy her belief in outside aid, and her eloquence disappears. The former limits of her belief return. She says, "I am incapable of words that glow, for I am uneducated." This familiar instance reaffirms the Scriptural word concerning a man, "As he thinketh in his heart, so is he." If one believes that he cannot be an orator without study or a superinduced condition, the body responds to this belief, and the tongue grows mute which before was eloquent.
Mind is not necessarily dependent upon educational processes. It possesses of itself all beauty and poetry, and the power of expressing them.
The manifestation of God through mortals is as light passing through the window-pane. The light and the glass never mingle, but as matter, the glass is less opaque than the walls. The mortal mind through which Truth appears most vividly is that one which has lost much materiality—much error—in order to become a better transparency for Truth. Then, like a cloud melting into thin vapor, it no longer hides the sun.
Beholding the infinite tasks of truth, we pause,—wait on God. Then we push onward, until boundless thought walks enraptured, and conception unconfined is winged to reach the divine glory.
EARLY CHIMES, DECEMBER, 1898
Before the Christmas bells shall ring, allow me to improvise some new notes, not specially musical to be sure, but admirably adapted to the key of my feeling and emphatically phrasing strict observance or note well.
This year, my beloved Christian Scientists, you must grant me my request that I be permitted total exemption from Christmas gifts. Also I beg to send to you all a deep-drawn, heartfelt breath of thanks for those things of beauty and use forming themselves in your thoughts to send to your Leader. Thus may I close the door of mind on this subject, and open the volume of Life on the pure pages of impersonal presents, pleasures, achievements, and aid.
Man is the offspring and idea of the Supreme Being, whose law is perfect and infinite. In obedience to this law, man is forever unfolding the endless beatitudes of Being; for he is the image and likeness of infinite Life, Truth, and Love.
Infinite progression is concrete being, which finite mortals see and comprehend only as abstract glory. As mortal mind, or the material sense of life, is put off, the spiritual sense and Science of being is brought to light.