How Can We Feel Safe?

Mara Purl
Published by The Christian Science Sentinel, 7.4.2020

“Be careful of the missing corner on that last step tonight,” I warned my costar during a recent theater production.

Luminescent tape that normally would have marked the absent triangle of that step’s edge had been removed during repairs. My colleague heeded the warning, but I somehow failed to. En route to my first entrance, I felt my foot bend at an awkward angle when it found no supporting corner.

The injury seemed serious, but I had no time for yelps, ice, or even to take weight off the foot. I had to simply go forward with the performance. During intermission, I didn’t remove my shoe, because I was worried that the foot was too swollen to replace the shoe before Act II started. I did, however, sit quietly to take stock of the situation.

Having had previous experiences in which relying on spiritual healing proved more effective and lasting than traditional medical remedies, I began to pray. Mary Baker Eddy, the author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, revolutionized established conceptions of prayer; the Science she discovered—and named Christian Science—proved that prayer based on the spiritual laws of God can and does have a direct effect on health and well-being. 

During the several years I’d been a student of this divine Science, I’d read several arresting statements in Science and Health, one of which was, “Accidents are unknown to God …” (p. 424). Other statements in the same book describe God as omniscient—that is, knowing all.

At first, these statements seemed contradictory to me. After all, if God knows everything, I thought, He must know when accidents happen. Some would even say that these things happen “for a reason,” or that we’re being “taught a lesson” when something bad happens. But, as I came to realize, that is not at all the case. 

The joy of knowing I could never be beyond the scope of Love’s care washed over me.

If we think about it more deeply, we can see that the paradox these statements seem to present isn’t a paradox at all. It’s an invitation to look at things from a higher, spiritual perspective. You could say this comes under the heading of “Things are not always as they seem.” For example, at one point in history, most of the world’s population were convinced that the earth was the center of the universe, until Copernicus made the bold assertion that the earth actually orbits the sun. It still appears that the sun rises and sets, but we now know that the sun is the stationary center of a solar system, and it’s the earth that is in motion.

So perhaps this appearance of a swollen foot didn’t have to convince me that a material cause had created a material effect from which there could be no immediate relief. From the perspective of pure logic, let’s assume both of the following statements are true: God knows all, and He does not know accidents. The only possible conclusion in this syllogism is that accidents don’t actually occur. This conclusion is supported by another spiritual fact: God, the one omniscient Mind, is infinite, filling all space. Therefore, there is no space in which anything that isn’t known by this infinite divine Mind can exist. That leaves “accidents” out in that nonexistent zone.

Sitting backstage, I began to see that we have a tendency to divide the world—or actually, our perception of the world—into two categories: safe and unsafe. We might think we’re safe at home but unsafe on an airplane, or safe when we’re employed but unsafe when we’re not. I had thought my fellow actor and I were safe if that stair was marked but unsafe if it wasn’t. But did God see us, or know us, any differently when we moved, say, from backstage to onstage, or from parking lot to theater? Since God knows and upholds everything that really exists, including us, aren’t we always safe no matter where we are?

I realized, then, that I had wrongly identified one small area of the universe as a zone where infinite God was not in control. Only without God, the one Mind, could anything unsafe, unprincipled, or unintelligent happen. As I thought this over, I almost laughed out loud. Really? I mused, as intermission drew to a close. God can handle the galaxies, the oceans, the past, the present, and the future, but He missed the corner of that stair?

Each individual’s identity is spiritual, whole, and secure.

The joy of knowing that I never had been, nor ever could be, beyond the scope of divine Mind’s intelligence, divine Principle’s control, and divine Love’s tender care washed over me. I rose and took my place. When I heard my cue, I entered with authority and dominion, all suggestion of pain or discomfort or accident erased from my awareness. My foot was completely healed.

By the following night, the luminescent tape had been restored to all the unlit edges backstage, a good protocol in theatrical practice. But by then I knew I didn’t need the tape to identify a “dangerous” place. There truly is no such place, since there is no place where God is not.

This experience has come back to me often—for instance, when descending a “dangerous” set of stairs, sitting aboard a plane, driving on a freeway, or walking across a darkened parking lot. When I read news reports about war-torn areas, homeless refugees, or at-risk youth, I also reach out for this insight: Because we are all inherently spiritual, cared for by God, we could never be in danger. Each individual’s spiritual identity is whole and secure, always held in the realm of divine Mind.

Yet it isn’t enough to throw some good thoughts at what can be devastating circumstances. A higher, spiritual law of safety is in operation, but unless we claim the operation of that law for ourselves and bring our thoughts into alignment with it, we don’t experience its saving grace or help others do so. In her Message to The Mother Church for 1902, Mrs. Eddy writes, “A danger besets thy path?—a spiritual behest, in reversion, awaits you” (p. 19). When we’re tempted to believe a danger confronts us—even something as small as the missing corner of a step—we have the authority to be alert and reverse that suggestion, and establish ourselves and others as embraced and upheld by the Mind that is Love, always keeping us safe.

Copyright © 2020, Board of Directors

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