From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Click here to play the audio as you read:
Mrs. Eddy’s Spiritually Poised Thought
When one of the students failed to perform his or her human task from the spiritual standpoint, Mrs. Eddy’s personal inclinations might be not to be severe with that student. Yet, from her standpoint of spiritual perception, the outward evidence was all she needed to prove that that student was lending himself or herself to be a channel for animal magnetism, which was a condition she could not permit, either for the student’s sake, for her own sake, or that of the Cause. Surely, if she had tolerated any of the students being used by animal magnetism, would that not have provided the adversary with a means whereby error might find lodgment in the home?
When Mrs. Eddy’s students were in a state of materialmindedness, they could do nothing for her that would satisfy her. Often they knew that she rebuked their efforts when they were humanly correct. If, however, a man should permit a belt, studded with long spikes, to be placed around his waist, and if by some possibility he was ignorant of this fact, he might wonder why his friends did not want him to come near them, and why they accused him of causing them suffering, even when he approached them from the standpoint of love and service. His loving attempts to serve would cause misery. This illustration uncovers the seeming mystery of our Leader’s experiences in her home, where she felt, through the thought of those who ministered to her, a pang of suffering. She said to one student, “Your tender thought reaches me and costs me much.” Had that tender thought been free from all human sense, no suffering would have ensued.
Why was our Leader so positive on this one point, even to the degree that she ran the danger of being misunderstood by those nearest and dearest to her? It was because her very life was so dependent upon the spiritual poise of her thought that, to let into the atmosphere of the home what might result in the lowering of her spiritual sense, would be equivalent to allowing an insane man to roam around the home with a gun in his hand. I can never repeat too often, that Mrs. Eddy’s sense of life and existence had so come to be the outward manifestation of her spiritual thought, rather than the expression of a belief in matter, that whatever threatened her spiritual thought, even to submerge it temporarily, was a blow aimed at her very life; and she recognized the need of making the demonstration to stay with the Cause, because of the infinite significance of Christian Science to a waiting and needy world.
It is difficult even for the advanced students, who have a belief of physical strength and well-being to sustain them, when their spiritual thought becomes dimmed, to appreciate what a frail sense of physical health Mrs. Eddy had to rely on, apart from demonstration. Her cry was, “Lord, save or I perish,” whereas another might cry, “Lord, save, or I will be uncomfortable or unhappy.”
One should not construe the above to mean that Mrs. Eddy was an invalid. How could a woman be an invalid in any sense of the word, and sit at her desk every day, turning out the work that would exhaust five strong, healthy persons? Mrs. Eddy possessed a sense of endurance and a capacity for labor that was astounding. The impression I am attempting to convey is that, when the daily inflow of spiritual Life diminished even a bit, Mrs. Eddy was in danger, because she had so little apart from that to lean on. Hence, it is no wonder that she definitely affirmed, that any attempt to introduce into her experience that which proceeded from mortal belief, or animal magnetism, was attempted mental murder.
An interesting commentary connected with this subject of mental murder is that Mrs. Eddy permitted no telephone at Pleasant View. All calls had to be made over public phones located in the heart of the city. When a spiritual leader reaches the point, where he or she recognizes that the outpouring of spiritual thought is of the utmost importance to the world, higher than any demand the world might claim to have, then anything that might interrupt that continuity of spiritual thought, is something to be avoided, if possible. Mrs. Eddy knew that a telephone could easily become the medium through which a connection might be established with many, whose thought would be barred from the home through all other channels.
I can recall one hot August night going down into the city to telephone a newspaper article to Alfred Farlow, in order that it might appear in the Boston Globe the next day. The article was written by Mrs. Eddy, in answer to a request for her to issue some pronouncement on the establishment of peace in the war between Russia and Japan. However, no-one complained at the extra work necessitated by the lack of a telephone, for we appreciated how much it meant to Mrs. Eddy’s peace of mind.
The matter has been raised by students of Mrs. Eddy’s life, why those in the home should have questioned, as they sometimes did, her moves when she was guided by God. My answer is, that if they could have been present in the home, they would have perceived that her being led by God was far from what one might imagine. She was guided by God to move in ways which often appeared to have no bearing on an important question, a circumstance that would arouse doubt in the minds of the students. But later, the wisdom of what she had done would be made manifest. Therefore, the deduction is that she was led by God indirectly. Paul writes, “Who hath known the mind of the Lord?” Who can perceive the divine plan while being guided to fulfill it? The test of man’s faith is to be directed on a path, the objective of which seems either unreasonable or non-existent to the human mind and yet, to continue on it, because the conviction is present that it is the divine leading. Then the discovery comes that it was wise beyond the possibility of any human planning. To be willing to move without knowing the divine reason, is the great test. It is one that exalts Mrs. Eddy’s experience above that of anyone since Jesus.