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Dealing with fear of contagion

MANY people, aware that certain books, television programs, and so forth, can create disturbing images, wisely decide that brutal fictional violence has no place in their home. But, as I discovered this past winter, vivid mental pictures can intrude from unexpected sources, and constant watchfulness is needed. I became fearful of an infectious disease. Well-meaning people thought it quite acceptable, even interesting, to discuss at great length the current illnesses. I had been exposed to a very detailed account of her child's illness by one friend, who concluded that all the children in school, especially my child (because the two children had been in close contact), would become ill. I put down the telephone, feeling sympathy for her child. It was not until a few days later that I realized how much I had been affected, as I caught myself anxiously checking each sniff and cough of my rather sur- prised daughter. Her impatient response alerted me to the fact that actually it was I who was troubled by the images of disease and who needed healing. I knew I had the means to deal with these mental images and that their root cause was fear. Each time fear tried to take over, and my thoughts were obsessed by the descriptions of sickness, I vigorously asserted my freedom. My confidence that I could be free was based on what I had learned and proved about the nature of God and of man's relationship to Him. Study of the Bible, together with Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, presents quite a different picture of things from the one generally held. I have found that even a glimpse of the great Biblical truth that God is all-power, all good, and always present, that He is the creator of a wholly perfect spiritual universe, can bring release from trouble. It is natural to realize that God's goodness and loving care continuously embrace every facet of His creation. Man reflects this goodness and dominion. He expresses such divine qualities as health, joy, and love. Discerning the reality of this truth in prayer, we see fear for what it is: a false sense of things. If it is challenged and replaced by a conviction of God's power, and the spiritual perfection of man, it evaporates, and so do the symptoms associated with it. While dealing with fear of contagion, I also found it necessary to learn how to prevent this fear from creeping back. The Bible--particularly the teachings and example of Christ Jesus--gives an invaluable guide in this respect. His parables illustrate clearly that qualities such as love, humility, unselfishness, childlikeness, obedience, alertness, trust in God, should be cherished. By seeking the kingdom of heaven, and gaining some understanding of God's spiritual universe, we find ourselves becoming released from the burden of matter-based thinking and experiencing the peace and joy that are natural to God's creation. By his words and actions Jesus exhorted us to be prepared and alert. The parable of the foolish and wise virgins is a salutary reminder of this vital requirement.1 I was experiencing the unnecessary outcome of being off guard. As I continued to pray confidently, the fear and aggressive images were eradicated. My daughter remained completely free, and there was no epidemic at the school. I resolved to obey these words of Jesus more faithfully: ``Take ye heed, watch and pray . . . . What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.'' 2 Just as we wouldn't hesitate to guard against insidious reading or video material entering our home, we need to be equally alert to the intrusion of descriptions of disease. In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy explains how the quality of our thought affects the body. In one passage she makes this statement: ``We should understand that the cause of disease obtains in the mortal human mind, and its cure comes from the immortal divine Mind. We should prevent the images of disease from taking form in thought, and we should efface the outlines of disease already formulated in the minds of mortals.'' 3 The glorious example of our Master, and his unequivocal teachings, are readily available to us. By obeying them and cultivating Christlike qualities it becomes easier for us to reject images of disease. By doing this we are truly serving God and our fellowman. 1 See Matthew 25:1-13. 2 Mark 13:33, 37. 3 Science and Health, pp. 174-175.{et

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