From Mary Baker Eddy, Her Spiritual Footsteps by Gilbert Carpenter
Demonstrating the Meals at Pleasant View
On another page of this volume is a reference to Mrs. Eddy’s use of the word opium, that deserves comment. In the chapter on arsenic, the fact is presented that matter in itself contains not the slightest inherent power. Hence, when our Leader used such terms, she referred to the action of mortal mind, as it claimed to produce the effect on the individual, that is usually supposed to come through the drug or the poison.
It is a well-known fact that man is induced to take opium because it promises a sleepy sense, in which he imagines himself to be rich and powerful, secure and healthy. Hence, it is plain that by the term opium, Mrs. Eddy referred to the action of animal magnetism, in its tendency to produce a sleepy sense of contentment and well-being, in those who should be spiritually alert and watchful. Jesus might well have called it opium, when he found his disciples put to sleep at a time when he needed their support. Therefore, when Mrs. Eddy found her students going to sleep mentally, when they should have been awake, she found it more effectual in rousing thought to call it opium, or ether, than merely to call it sleepiness. This same point may be found in her use of the word immorality, where she referred, not to man’s actions, but to the innate depravity of the human mind.
Another point that needs explication is Mrs. Eddy’s reference, on page 48 of this book, to a struggle with indigestion. Let me say, that Mrs. Eddy’s struggle with indigestion was as far removed from the struggle an average person might have with that claim, as is the common warfare against evil from the animal magnetism Mrs. Eddy had to overcome in writing Science and Health.
The common belief of indigestion is connected with the condition of the food one eats. Divine metaphysics reveals another phase of this same claim, that might result from food that had been impregnated with the poison of mortal thought. This latter phase, however, can touch only those who have grown so spiritually sensitive, that they can detect and be affected by the unscientific state of mind of the one who prepares or serves the food.
It was not to be expected that Mrs. Eddy’s cook could assume the entire burden of preparing her food, and at the same time make the complete spiritual demonstration. Therefore, the other workers in the home were expected to take part in this most vital work; vital because our Leader could feel a lack of demonstration connected with her food more keenly than in any other direction, because of the magnitude of her demonstration of being nourished spiritually.
It follows, therefore, that if, three times a day, Mrs. Eddy could feel the sustaining quality of her students’ demonstration as expressed in the food prepared for her, that would greatly aid her in keeping her thought spiritually uplifted. It must be understood, that when Mrs. Eddy was able to maintain her thought where it belonged, a lack of demonstration in the home in any direction was no problem to her. She could rise above it easily. When the students were rebuked for a lack of demonstration, therefore, it was always proof that error was reaching out in an effort to rob her of her spiritual thought. It was then that she depended on the spiritual readiness of her students in coming to her defence.
I can recall being given the privilege of bringing our Leader’s dinner to her each noon in her room. I am convinced that it was her hope, that in performing this service, I would make the demonstration which would make the food acceptable to her, not bringing it in to her until it had been purged of mortal mind, and made a channel for a spiritually uplifting thought. She hoped that I might have the spiritual perception to see the Spirit of God operating through the food to bless her, because it had been taken out of the realm of matter and put into the realm of Mind. Yet, because, when the food was not acceptable, she did not rebuke me, I failed in this priceless privilege and was replaced. Not until I began the inspirational study of our Leader’s life, did I perceive how she hoped to be left free to establish the Cause, by having the students run the home on a metaphysical basis; but alas, our sense of Christian Science was too limited, and we failed her.
We read of kings in olden times who employed food tasters, who were expected to partake of each dish prepared for the master, in order to ascertain whether poison had been mixed with the food. In this way, the life of a king was often saved.
One might say, that from the metaphysical standpoint, the students at Pleasant View were food tasters for our Leader. Theirs was the task of detecting, through spiritual perception, whether the food served to Mrs. Eddy was mixed with the poison of the human mind, even though manifested in a sense of human love and loyalty. To fulfill this task successfully was to lighten Mrs. Eddy’s labors, and to give her more freedom to do the larger work for the Field and the world. The motto of their work was, “O taste and see that the Lord is good;” see that the food was impregnated with the goodness of God, and not the poison of human thinking, before it was taken to our Leader.
When one has reached the spiritual point of depending on God for Life, it is fatuous to serve that one with material food, believing that apart from its spiritual significance, it has the power to give strength and satisfaction. It was a possibility for the student who cooked our Leader’s meals, or served them, to give them, in that simple act, the spiritual quality necessary to sustain her. Since this work was a vital necessity only when she herself was not up to the mark spiritually, it becomes plain why the possibility existed of this work being neglected.
One might ask why many of the points in this volume were not recorded or explained by Mrs. Eddy. The answer is plain. She was continually struggling with the mighty problems of the world, which gave her little time to think about herself. If she had taken time to withdraw from her larger work, she could have made many things plain, but would this not thereby have robbed the students? Why? Because there is no finer process to help one to develop his spiritual thought, than to take problems for which there is no human solution, and to work them out spiritually. Hence, students can feel grateful, that the life of their Leader presents many phases which seem dark and inexplicable from a human standpoint, since, thereby, they are provided with opportunities for spiritual growth that are precious beyond words, as they lift thought to the place where the spiritual answer will flood in.