From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Demonstration the Law in Mrs. Eddy’s Home
On one occasion Mrs. Eddy wrote a note in pencil to her coachman, Adolph Stevenson, calling his attention to the fact that the hair-dresser had cut his hair too high on the back of his neck. (Mr. Stevenson had been my patient, and when I heard of Mrs. Eddy’s need of a coachman, I recommended him for the position.) Such a definite rebuke provides a perfect illustration of one of the minute incidents of Mrs. Eddy’s experience that is fraught with spiritual implications, significance and teaching. It is the sure indication that nothing was too small in Mrs. Eddy’s estimation to be used to denote a falling-away of spiritual thought. Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” Mrs. Eddy manifested the office of a spiritual Father toward the students in her home. How natural it was, that their immature upward-soaring thoughts could not fall to earth without her knowing it!
When Mrs. Eddy rebuked an outward manifestation of this kind, she was simply rebuking the student’s failure to measure up to the standard of scientific thinking which she demanded in the home, and upon which she depended. A poor haircut was sufficient, in her estimation, to serve as an excuse to call the attention of the student to a hundred ways in which his reflection of Truth might be made more practical. In reality this was, and is, a rebuke to any student of Christian Science who confines his spiritual thinking to his health or the condition of his finances.
Let us regard this from Mrs. Eddy’s standpoint. If her coachman was alert enough to endeavor to make such a simple thing as a haircut a matter of scientific demonstration, might that not lead him to recognize, as never before, that he was a representative of the Cause of Christian Science and that he would be judged as such?
Mrs. Eddy was continually emphasizing to her students the importance of remembering that manifestation is the outward indication of one’s thinking. This is why Christian Scientists should be well-dressed people, and excel in whatever they undertake, because, if they truly reflect the harmony and activity of divine Mind, such manifestation must necessarily follow.
Mrs. Eddy desired Mr. Stevenson to realize that even in the minutiae of daily life, Christian Scientists express the spiritual ideal which they have accepted. Mrs. Eddy herself always exemplified this ideal, and the outward manifestation always accorded with the beauty, importance and value of her spiritual thought.
Mrs. Eddy knew that as one’s thought improved, his whole standard would evidence growth. Everything connected with man partakes of the nature of his thinking. Hence, the student of Christian Science will always give a satisfactory outward appearance when the measure of his thinking is scientifically beneficent. Everyone who comes into his presence will bask in the spiritual atmosphere he reflects.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, on page 25, Mrs. Eddy writes, “The divinity of the Christ was made manifest in the humanity of Jesus.” The Bible tells us that, many times when Jesus saw the multitudes weighed down by mortal belief, “he was moved with compassion toward them.” This compassion, or humanity, was the proof that the divine Mind was entering into his thought in a right and ever-increasing measure. The Christian Scientist has no proof within himself of any true divinity, unless he feels moved with compassion for all humanity, no matter in what way they may be following out the suggestions of fear or sin. Mrs. Eddy desired that all her students manifest this humanity in every direction, as evidence of spiritual growth. She wanted them to understand that the demonstration of Christian Science broadens instead of narrowing one, and that for one to endeavor to have even his outward appearance improve, because of the Principle he stands for and reflects, is of itself, an effort which will stimulate to a broader and broader interpretation and application of Truth.
If man’s reflection of Truth could be differentiated from his application of Truth, by calling the former his profession and the latter his business, we could say that Mrs. Eddy made the business of her students her daily care and watchful solicitude, whereas their profession was a sacred precinct wherein she would not trespass without permission. If the student did not have enough love and persistence to endeavor to gain more and more of the divine Mind each day, that called for no rebuke from Mrs. Eddy, unless it was requested. In fact, such a lack is only known to the student himself, when it shows itself in its outward manifestation. After the groundwork of spiritual understanding was established, however, then the matter of broadening such a demonstration of spiritual thinking, and applying it in every right way, became Mrs. Eddy’s concern as Leader, since she was endeavoring to wean her students from the narrow conception which fancied that sitting in a chair and saying, “God is Love,” constituted the demonstration of Christian Science. As she once said to a student, “You may sit in your chair all day and say over beautiful words, and it does not amount to anything; it is the Spirit that is needed.”
Mrs. Eddy required a practical and correct utilization of one’s profession. She knew that if the world should find aught to criticize in the student, it would reflect against the Cause. She perceived the vital importance of each student reaching the point, where he could broaden his thought to realize that he was carrying on his shoulders, the responsibility of the integrity of the entire Cause, since Christian Science is judged through the lives of the individuals who profess to be followers of this movement. The greatest advertisement for Christian Science is the mode of living of the individual student, because the world’s estimate of it rests upon him.
Mrs. Eddy insisted that the students in her home handle the claim of mental apathy, as if their lives depended on spiritual alertness. A man who is usually careful about his appearance, would surely never allow his barber to give him a poor haircut unless he were off guard, or asleep as to what was being done. Hence, we can infer that Mrs. Eddy was rebuking Mr. Stevenson for being asleep mentally on this one point, which indicated the possibility of his being asleep to things much more important and vital.
It is a fact that there were students who, in their inmost hearts, considered that Mrs. Eddy’s age had made her unnecessarily punctilious about the little things in the home; but, because they loved her so deeply and were so appreciative of her teachings, they forgave her. Mrs. Eddy was far from being humanly a taskmaster. Exacting she was, if that word is interpreted to mean that she held for all her students the high goal that they do everything from the standpoint of demonstration, where demonstration means being guided by the Mind of God, rather than being under the control of human belief. The vital and important demand Mrs. Eddy made on the students in the home, was that they maintain that spiritual poise of thought at all times, which would enable them to reflect the divine Mind, and hence, to hold up her hands. As she once said to a student in the home, “There is one thing needed all over the Field and which is only supplied here, and might not be supplied in the Field in centuries; that is, to have but one God, divine Principle and its demonstration. (There is nothing can prevent it.)”
To be sure, Mrs. Eddy’s criticisms often touched the minor things of life. For example, I (Whenever I is used in the text, it refers to Mr. Carpenter, Sr.) can remember her rebuking the way I tucked in her robe as she left for her drive. At the time, I knew that she expected me to trace back and realize that a rebuke from the Leader, no matter what might have occasioned it, was, in reality, a rebuke for a lack of demonstration. Under such circumstances, I would retire to my room and wake myself up spiritually, until I was satisfied that the divine Mind had the upper hand in me. Even from a human standpoint, when one stubs his toe, breaks a plate, or the like, he feels in a vague sort of way that the devil must be after him. If the devil in such cases be denominated as careless, human thinking, then Mrs. Eddy’s rebukes become even more comprehensible.
If Mr. Stevenson were to be presented at the Court of St. James, there is no doubt that every detail of his toilet would have been arranged in perfect harmony and taste. Mrs. Eddy recognized herself as the spiritual Leader, and hence, as the direct representative of God for her Cause. She also knew that being in her home was an opportunity that was accorded to fewer people, than was that of being presented at any Court, and was a far greater privilege.
It was well for those who lived in her home to remember what this priceless opportunity was, and endeavor to live, both inwardly and outwardly, so as to show forth their appreciation of this honor.
All the workers in Mrs. Eddy’s home, whether they cooked for her or attended to her correspondence, whether they occupied the guest chamber or the attic, were her valued students, and it required a spiritual understanding to demonstrate their work. This requirement was the law of the home. Hence, Mrs. Eddy’s interest in Mr. Stevenson’s appearance showed that she had the same concern about having him maintain his scientific thinking, that she had for the thinking of those who, from the world’s standpoint, were engaged in more metaphysical work.