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'Gather up the fragments'

A Christian Science perspective on daily life

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My great-grandma was a quilter, and I've spent many nights snuggled up beneath her handiwork. So I appreciate the care and precision that go into constructing a fine quilt.

The "Quilts of Gee's Bend" were nothing like Great-grandma's. Hanging proudly on the walls of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, many were pieced together from faded blue jeans, old clothes, and flour sacks. The black and white photographs and the placards on the museum wall described a community that has for decades been economically depressed, but the quilts told a different story. They spoke of magnanimous hearts, hope, and determination. They spoke of women who rejoiced in every thread of good, in each remnant and scrap of beauty and usefulness that came into their lives.

As I studied the hip-pocket shadows and knee patches on the denim panels, my thought went back several centuries to a man, also of very modest means, who knew how to make the most of every particle of good that God gave.

Faced with a hungry crowd who'd come to hear him teach, he looked to his companions to share what little food they had with the crowd. After distributing five loaves of bread and a few fish to an assembly of thousands, all of whom ate their fill, he said something remarkable: "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost" (John 6:12).

I like to think that Jesus' ability to feed those people was a tangible expression of the spiritual food he'd already shared so richly.

He understood what deep, practical, renewable insights could be gleaned from the simplest truths the sacred texts contained. His trust in the power of the simplest word of truth bespoke an insight into the exhaustless possibilities of one truism, thoroughly assimilated. When he said, "Gather up the fragments that remain," wasn't he talking about more than bread crumbs? Wasn't he talking about ideas?

"Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 3). These compelling words were written centuries after Jesus, by another spiritual thinker who wasn't content to look at things superficially or dogmatically.

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