Posts tagged ‘Divine Love’
By John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon
This piece was originally published on OregonLive last December not long after the shooting at Newtown, CT. Emotions surrounding the shooting are still raw. I thought it would be helpful to post my comments here, with a few changes to make it current.
It’s never easy to see tragedies that undo lives and families and communities. In my 30 years of law enforcement I encountered plenty of this sort of thing. Our hearts go out to the community of Newtown, Connecticut, and to all parents and teachers across the country. It’s been over three months since the shooting and we are still challenged to find a way to address the unexplainable. Without some view of the nature of life that transcends all the shortcomings of the human experience I’m certain that I would be adrift in despair.
I have found, though, that in holding onto and affirming what, for me, are fundamental truths, I can find peace.
This is what I feel:
I don’t know why this happened in a cosmic sense, and it’s futile to try and figure it out. My heart says that God did not cause this tragedy, nor turn His back on us.
To me, God is the essence of goodness. And God is complete love. As such, I feel that God loves each one of us as His own creation, including all involved at Sandy Hook School. That love is still with those dear children and staff, embracing them and holding them close. They are with God. More importantly for those trying to cope with the aftermath, divine Love is closer than ever to comfort and strengthen families and communities.
I believe we must be more persevering in our search for solutions to prevent future violence, whether it involves one person or thousands of people. For me, it means praying to know that a loving and good God will guide our desires and actions towards finding solutions.
I, and others, might find ourselves letting go of some cherished beliefs and ideologies in this search for solutions, no matter how uncomfortable that makes us initially feel. Motivated by love for our children and our communities, embracing each other with more patience and attentiveness, we must find a way to work together toward that end.
I believe that being willing to pray for real solutions will bring them to us. We can still feel the “peace that passes all understanding” during this season and beyond by insisting that we will not become cynical and afraid, and knowing that God has not turned away. And when we do that we will find a way to hold these crimes in check.
by John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon
I’ve noticed an increase in the number of people on street corners asking for money the last several years. I have to admit that sometimes cynicism nags at me in response to the plea scribbled on a piece of cardboard in their hand.
“Anything will help. God bless”
Other times I just feel bad for the person holding the sign. On rare occasions I actually give them some money. I can’t explain why some people struck a chord with me and some didn’t.
Why would I pass judgment on the individuals standing there– deciding some are worthy and some are not? And what makes one worthy of my noticing them with compassion? Does it matter if they’re married or have kids or not? If they are an alcoholic? If they have mental illness? Or if they are truly a victim of economic circumstances leaving them down and out?
Consistency is important to me. I’m working towards a steady attitude of unconditional compassion for all mankind.
Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) has an important message for me. It presents a moral imperative to show compassion for those whom we might consider unworthy.
That a Samaritan (considered by ancient Jews to be an impure group) would stop to help a Jew who was in trouble, was unthinkable by social norms of the day. Perhaps one point Jesus was making in the story is that the Jew was worthy of the Samaritan’s compassion, not because he deserved it, but because he needed it.
Nothing in this parable suggests that another must deserve my compassion, or that I should get anything in return for my benevolence.
Then why do it? Does feeling and acting compassionately have any reward, even a sense of satisfaction for having felt and done something for someone else? In the traditional Christian moral paradigm, compassion and giving might be considered a prerequisite for going to heaven.
But what about the here and now?
I know that when I feel compassion for others, and act selflessly on it, I feel a sense of peace and inner happiness. But research is finding that’s not all.
At the University of Michigan, professor of medicine Bertram Pitt MD, has found that forgiveness and regular acts of kindness do contribute to people’s overall happiness.
Studies on altruism, however, suggest that happiness is not the only benefit. A study of 2,700 residents of Tecumseh, Michigan, found that men who volunteered in their community were two and a half times less likely to die than non-volunteering men.
Tia Rich, Ph.D., Director of Stanford CARES (Compassion, Awareness, and Relationship Skills to Ease Stress), spoke with BeWell about the relationship between compassion and health. She says that: “… Compassion … can be expressed between strangers or even enemies…” such as was illustrated with the Good Samaritan.
She goes on: “In 2008, compassion’s role was the focus of researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison who reported the results of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies conducted on Tibetan Buddhist monks with more than 10,000 hours of compassion mediation experience. The research suggested that the experienced monks had greater awareness and attention to emotional stimuli and had a greater compassionate response to those stimuli. These findings suggest that compassion’s effect…may be a mechanism by which the stress response is reduced and health is promoted.”
K. C. Blair, Founder and Director of Good Samaritans International, says: “I never thought as a scientist I would find myself saying this, but our research data has led to our conclusion that compassion creates healing and maintains health.”
A freelance writer, breast cancer survivor, and frequent contributor to CNN, Amanda Anita, writes in her blog “How to deal with mean people”:
“Indeed, a slew of studies confirm that kinder people tend to live longer and lead healthier lives; volunteers have fewer aches and pains; and compassionate people are more likely to be healthier and successful.”
Whether or not you feel an obligation to love your neighbor as yourself, as I do, compassion for others can make life better for them. And it can also improve your own longevity and health. But, as anyone knows who tries to practice compassion, it isn’t about logic and head games, but about expanding the heart. Many of those who make compassion their way of life understand this.
When Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist from the University of Wisconsin, began studying the effects of compassion meditation in 1992, he traveled to a Tibetan Buddhist monastery and attached electrodes to the head of an expert meditation practitioner. He was surprised when the other monks began laughing.“I thought it was because he looked so funny with the electrodes attached to him,” Davidson recalled. But it turned out the monks were amused that he was trying to study the effects of compassion by attaching the electrodes to the practitioner’s head, rather than his heart.
What I know of Christmas today is certainly different than what I knew as a child. I was really caught up in the magic of the holiday: the Christmas tree, decorations, presents, special treats, and being out of school for two whole weeks. It was a magical time of year.
As a child I was clueless about the sometimes unfortunate backstory of the magic. Stress, lack of money to buy gifts (or even to eat), being alone when you’re supposed to be with family and friends, broken relationships, overindulgence in alcohol and so on. This special time of year turns out to be the most dreaded for some. It doesn’t have to be the case, though, even in the most dire circumstances.
A different perspective on this season has emerged gently in my thought, and it continues to grow. You might think that my Christian affiliation means Christmas to me is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. But really, that is only the most familiar symbol of what Christmas has to offer.
A passage in the Bible in the book of Isaiah really tells the whole story of Christmas. It is the promise of hope fulfilled. In Isaiah it says that..
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. ( Isaiah 9:2)
What do we hope for? It can mean repaired relationships, finding companionship, financial needs being met, and health restored. Restoring and maintaining health perhaps has been the biggest quest of mankind. The human race has devoted untold resources to alleviating pain and suffering, and prolonging life.
Modern medicine makes the headlines, but the ability to heal one’s self and others through prayer has been around for thousands of years. Christ Jesus taught how to change thought in order to bring healing, and this power is still available for everyone. The promise is for all time and there is current evidence that the promise is being fulfilled.
I found the story of Gabrielle Giffords’ remarkable recovery this year to be a great example of the power of the right mental atmosphere in healing. Not only is Gabby someone who never gives up, but her husband, Mark Kelly, and mother, Gloria, also knew that Gabby would recover as well. They saw that she was surrounded by love and a positive and unlimited attitude. This is a story of strength and courage, living out the fulfillment of the promise.
The backstory of Christmas isn’t hopelessness and despair. It’s fulfillment of the promise. Health is the best gift, and we all have more resources than we know to achieve it. Better than seasonal magic is the hope that Jesus brought to 2000 years ago. And the promise is being fulfilled.
My colleague, Bob Clark from Florida, has written a thoughtful blog challenging the notion that with maturity comes debilitation. He shares a healing of Alzheimer’s disease achieved through spiritual means alone. Whether or not you are a “senior”, this is a blog worth reading. John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon.
By Bob Clark, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Florida
I live in an area with a lot of wonderful older people, “seniors” as they’re often called. I love seeing seniors walking on the beach, fishing off the piers, driving convertibles, playing golf and generally enjoying life in their later years. These are the true “senior moments”.
So it bothers me deeply when I read about Alzheimer’s disease threatening to demote seniors from their well-earned place and status to a lower level where their “senior-hood” can become a curse rather than a blessing.
Here are some startling statistics from American Family Physician, “The financial and social costs of Alzheimer’s disease are staggering. In the United States, the disease accounts for about $100 billion per year in medical and custodial expenses, with the average patient requiring an expenditure of about $27,000 per year for medical and nursing care. In addition, 80 percent of caregivers report stress, and about 50 percent report depression.”
Is there an alternative to the unjust sentence this disease imposes on our seniors and their families? Is there a way to control or even avoid its collateral costs and damage? Yes. Fortunately for all of us, there is.
As health care reform lumbers forward and costs spiral upward we are seeing increased coverage of alternative approaches to health and healing. The number one alternative, according to NIH, the National Institutes of Health, is prayer. Surprised?
Well, prayer, as it turns out, actually works, even for incurable, degenerative diseases that baffle medical experts. Below is an outstanding and inspiring example of how prayer was used to completely overcome Alzheimer’s. In this case, after a medical diagnosis, every conceivable remedy was applied: Chinese herbalism, homeopathy, ayurvedic medicine, and yoga, all in addition to the most up to date pharmaceutical remedies. After all else failed, this woman found prayer to be the only effective and permanent alternative. Hers is a must read story.
Her prayer-based triumph over Alzheimer’s is just one example of thousands, offering proof that medical diagnoses are not always final and that there is a practical spiritual alternative to forfeiting the joys of senior-hood.
Today I have the pleasure of sharing this post from the blog of Shannon Horst, Christian Science Committee on Publication for New Mexico. Her story is a clear and compelling example of why people, such as Shannon and I, choose Christian Science as their health care system. It works! John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon.
For readers who follow this blog, you know that I generally post an original piece on Monday every week. Well, yesterday, I had every intention of doing just that. But, let me share with you what happened because it is the very reason I am blogging.
Sunday night, after a lovely evening spent with my family and my brother, his wife and kids, I planned to head to my office and write my blog so that it could be posted very early Monday. But, after returning home from dinner out, I was hit with a sudden illness. I cannot tell you what it was but I can tell you that in the space of about 90 minutes I went from being fine to feeling so unwell that I could barely hold my head up or think straight. I could not find any comfortable position except to pace back and forth across one room.
As I always do, I turned to God in prayer. The prayer I engaged in is considered a scientific “treatment” in Christian Science and it is specific and designed to heal one of any illness. Sunday night, my prayer included affirmation of God’s allness and goodness and the fact that God is all cause and effect. It included my refusal to accept that I was anything less than God’s child – His actual outcome and reflection. It included my refusal to accept that I was subject to a virus or germs, because I have come to understand through studying Christian Science that I am actually a spiritual idea and not a material object. Lastly, I fully expected healing and gave gratitude to God in anticipation of a return to normalcy.
When, after about an hour, I still did not feel well, I called my mother and asked for her to pray with me. In about 20 minutes, the symptoms began to abate. In an hour they were entirely gone. I lay down and slept soundly through the night.
I did not get my blog written Sunday night. But, I experienced a clear and, for me, undeniable example of healing through prayer in Christian Science. It was quick, effective and affordable. My own experiences give me my reasons for wanting to be sure that scientific prayer is part of our nation’s search for solutions to its so-called “healthcare crisis.”