Chapter One Hundred Twenty-six
From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Mrs. Eddy’s Spiritual Call to the Field
In two issues of the Sentinel for 1899 we find the following:
Beloved: I ask this favor of all Christian Scientists: Do not send me on, before, or after the forthcoming holidays aught material, except three tea jackets—all may contribute to these. One learns to value material things only as one needs them; and the costliest things are those that one needs least. Among my present needs material, are these jackets. Two, of darkish, heavy silk, the shade appropriate to white hair. The third, of thick satin, lighter shade, but sufficiently sombre. Nos. 1 and 2 to be common-sense jackets for mother to work in, and not overtrimmed by any means. No. 3 for best, such as she can afford for her drawing-room.
Beloved: I accept most gratefully your purpose to clothe me, and when God has clothed you sufficiently, He will make it easy for you to clothe one of His “little ones.” Give yourselves no more trouble to get the three garments called for by me through last week’s Sentinel.
—Mary Baker Eddy
Pleasant View, Concord, N. H., December 25, 1899
Why should our Leader have included the above cards in the Sentinel; cards which were sure to stir thought and produce criticism, especially when she had those in her home, who might have made these garments for her? Why did she not ask one of her intelligent assistants to locate a Christian Science dressmaker, who was suitable, and commission her to do the task, instead of making the need public, and devoting space in her religious organ for such a material item?
Our Leader was guided by divine wisdom and Love, beyond our present capacity to conceive of that fact. It requires spiritual growth for a student to win the ability to penetrate beneath the surface, and detect the underlying purpose, actuated by inspiration.
The basis of all spiritual perception is the utilization of spiritual sense to dissect that which, when interpreted materially, gives only a surface indication of the need. One might use the illustration of the cry of a babe, which gives no definite indication of the need of the child, until the love and care of the mother trace back from the cry to the actual need. Our Leader would put forth a cry, such as this call for tea jackets, with the sublime hope and faith that there would be students of Christian Science, with enough spiritual love and perception, to trace back and see what her real need was, a need that was unseen and unknown to the mortal sense.
It was never possible to minister to our Leader’s needs materially, and thereby satisfy them. A metaphysician can only be ministered to through metaphysics. If Mrs. Eddy could have been ministered to materially, she could easily have had a thousand tea jackets sent to her, whereas she did not receive even one. The human sense says, “How could she, when she gave no dimensions of any kind?”
I repeat again and again, that nothing could be done for her, that was scientifically right, except through demonstration. Human affection, a personal desire to serve, to be loyal, and to be recognized for faithfulness, would not supply our Leader with anything but the recognition that the human mind, which is the enemy of spirituality, was putting forth activity in the name of Truth, a thing which acted on her spiritual thought like a blight. In order to bestow upon Mrs. Eddy welcome service, one had to lift his thought to God, and spiritualize it, until it approximated her spiritual level.
Can we not appreciate how Mrs. Eddy longed to put her finger on a demonstrating thought in the Field, that could be called to Pleasant View to render the service that she required, that she might be aided in functioning most efficiently for God and the race? The call for the three tea jackets was really a spiritual call, that went forth to test out the Field of Christian Science for spiritual workers. Unquestionably, a demonstration of those jackets by any student would have been followed by a call to Pleasant View. Mrs. Eddy longed to find a quality of thought, that would send those jackets, with enough spiritual thought accompanying them, to have them worthy to be called a demonstration, to be labelled, not with the name of some fashionable dressmaker, but with the humble insignia, This Came From God.
Therefore, Mrs. Eddy’s request for tea jackets might be called the voice of one crying in the wilderness, with the hope that one would be found spiritually-minded enough to interpret that voice, trace back, and detect what prompted it, and meet the cry with the spirit of God, service through guidance.
Any student who reflected the spirit, the wisdom and judgment of God sufficiently to be the humble instrument for answering such a call, would find in that demonstration the way to provide the perfect human expression of her spiritual desire. Thus would Mrs. Eddy’s need for the jackets be met, as well as her longing to find another student who might minister to her spiritual needs.
Beloved Christian Scientists! Our Leader’s need of these three jackets is not over. Symbolically, they still remain as a demonstration that must be made by the advancing student. Her cry still rings in our ears, a yearning to be understood spiritually, to have Christian Scientists gain the spiritual insight to understand, that her rebukes and demands were not the result of age, not the result of a bad disposition that had not been overcome, but the bidding of God in her, her cry and need for demonstration, that which scientific growth in a student would enable him to give her, after her cry had been rightly interpreted.
The advancing sense of Mary Baker Eddy in every student of Christian Science needs three garments. The first represents a scientific sense of love, that feeds and clothes its object spiritually. The second symbolizes a correct spiritual sense of service, that is free from selfaggrandizement or desire for reward. The third illustrates the spiritual understanding, that is applied to the needs of all mankind, the drawing room of Christian Science, where one puts on the garments of praise, and extends spiritual thought to the world.