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Don't hold your breath

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

During the summer season, weather forecasts in the Northeast frequently contain warnings regarding the air quality. The amount of pollution in the air, ozone levels, and pollen counts, along with current measurements of temperature and humidity, are regular information. In hot, humid weather, air quality is often said to be "unhealthy."

If our health seems dependent on air quality, then summer can be a rough time of year.

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I'm very glad for the widespread progress that has been made in cutting down on pollution. I don't think anyone misses the smell of coal, or the black clouds of diesel exhaust from buses and trucks. And smoke-free offices and restaurants are an added plus. Most people want to see continued improvement.

But it is important to register the fact that our health is not held hostage to the air quality. Air quality can't give us health or take it away. Now, I know that isn't what we normally hear on the radio. But it is a spiritual truth that can be proved.

A while back, when the air quality was quite bad, I spent a day suffering a lot from respiratory distress. When I woke up the next day, the air quality was reported to be worse. And so were the symptoms.

I took some time to pray for myself. I found myself thinking about this verse from the Bible: "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (I Cor. 6:19) I've come to think of "the Holy Ghost" as the revelation to men and women of the divine Spirit. As the activity of divine Love in our lives.

Spirit and Love mean God. It was rewarding to think of my body as being filled with the power of Spirit. Spirit is wholly good and pure, so that led me to conclude that my body was filled with the goodness and purity of Spirit. Spirit is ever-present, so that left no place where impurity could be found.

The Bible also says that "the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof" (Ps. 24:1). To me, this meant that everything in the earth, everything about the earth - spiritually speaking - is designed to express the nature of God. What God causes to be isn't filled with poisons and contaminants, but rather with the goodness and purity of Spirit. The author of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy, concluded that "the universe is filled with spiritual ideas, which He [God] evolves, and they are obedient to the Mind that makes them" (pg. 295).

After about an hour of pondering these spiritual facts, I got up to take care of some other things. I soon realized that all the symptoms I had been suffering from earlier had disappeared. Completely. The air quality hadn't changed, but the belief that my health was vulnerable to it had been destroyed. Prayer led me to the realization that I was subject only to God, to His goodness and purity, and not to the polluted atmosphere around me.

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There are tons of ads for medications to relieve the various symptoms of hay fever, allergies, and bronchial problems. But they don't claim to make us invulnerable to the various contaminants that brought about the original distress. If the air quality has not changed by the time the medication wears off, you need to take another dose.

On the other hand, the method of healing the Bible reveals, especially in the works of Jesus, presents a spiritual force that actually cures permanently. Jesus showed the relation to God that we each have without question. And he proved that God's law and will supersede any other force that affects people's health. Jesus taught that God is Spirit, and that this omnipotent force is the only power in our lives.

Millions of people honor the First Commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:3). We don't mean to have "other gods." But whenever we think that something or someone other than God influences or affects our health, we have in a sense broken that Commandment. Jesus' life illustrated the healing that occurs naturally, mentally, when we acknowledge the good power of God above all else, and bring our thoughts about our health into obedience to this fact: God alone governs, controls, and influences our life.

Who would not choose to have a God-governed, rather than a pollution-governed, life?

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