Chapter One Hundred Sixteen
From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Mrs. Eddy’s Later Experiences
One point that has troubled young students of Christian Science in regard to our Leader, and in regard to Christian Scientists in our present time, is the fact that there seem to be claims of error to meet, which one might think should have been overcome long ago. Young students have been known to wonder, why advanced metaphysicians should find themselves assailed by lack, by suffering, and by persecution.
This point may be clarified by a homely illustration of an ancient brass mirror that is covered with corrosion and dirt. The process of cleaning it is twofold. First the dirt and dust are removed. Then, a specially prepared dirt of gritty texture is applied. Finally, before it is removed, this powder is rubbed briskly to create a friction, which brings the brass to a high polish. Although there might be those who believed, that the work of cleaning was accomplished when the first process had been completed, a little examination would reveal that the second step was needed, before the task was finished.
The later experiences in Mrs. Eddy’s life represented the grit that was needed to produce a polish and purity, that brought her understanding to a still higher degree of brightness, thus enabling her to reflect the divine Mind with more clarity.
In the early experiences of the student, before this final polishing process has begun, he finds that it involves much less of a spiritual demonstration to effect results, than will be required in the later process. Knowledge of this condition prevents the advanced metaphysician from becoming discouraged, when a much greater spiritual effort apparently produces less visible fruitage, than in the days of his earlier effort. In the beginning, the polish is more superficial; satisfactory at the time, to be sure, but not to be mistaken for the final result.
Hence, any criticism is foolish, which might imply that the advanced student was not making a successful demonstration, because it impugns the critic for not appreciating that the higher tasks which infinite wisdom imposes on the advanced student, can be accomplished only by that intense consecration of spiritual thought, which our Leader so wonderfully exemplified. The line of demarcation, covering the above illustration of the brass mirror, is that the dirt, hiding the true nature of the mirror, is not the same as the abrasive that is added to produce the final polishing, that once more restores to the mirror its reflecting quality. One must be removed, while the other must be used, until the mirror once more reflects perfectly.
One of Mrs. Eddy’s personal maids reported that in 1909 she declared, “Whatever spiritualizes our thought is for our spiritual growth.” Then, in referring to her physical condition, she said, “The world need not jest because I am thus, for I am being disciplined. If I call it sickness, it will be that; but when I understand what it means, it becomes to me what the Scripture saith, ‘Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.’”