A Christian Science perspective.
A friend was recently recovering from surgery in the hospital. When she came home, she told me she finally understands the idea that we’re really spiritual! As she lay there in her bed, hooked up to several pieces of equipment and examined in great detail by her doctor, she commented that she felt like nothing more than a machine. She said it was an unpleasant sensation, as her nature and identity seemed to disappear in the face of the physical needs that were being cared for.
It occurred to me, as a spiritual care provider, that we (including my counterparts in the medical field) can be more conscious of this effect in our patients. We always need to remember that instead of mere material bodies with some collection of symptoms, these are thinking, caring, unique, soulful individuals with whom we have the privilege to work as they reconnect with harmony in their lives. Our bodies aren’t “the thing” – they aren’t the sum of who we really are as individuals.
Most of us go through our days forgetting about the body as we “drive” it and it responds to our ideas and impulses. And this is a good thing. We should expect the body to serve us naturally and quietly in somewhat the same way a car drives us where we direct it to go. Yet if we think of the mind governing us as nothing more than a brain, then it must also be limited and subject to circumstance.
We can take a different view: one that recognizes God, the divine Mind, not a human mind, as governing and controlling our thoughts and actions. This recognition becomes a consistent force maintaining balance, wellness, and harmony in our lives. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote extensively about the role of this divine Mind and about the spiritual identity of each one of us in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” She wrote that we can and should “take possession of your body, and govern its feeling and action” (p. 393). And elsewhere, she wrote about the understanding that there is only one Mind, God: “This understanding makes the body harmonious; it makes the nerves, bones, brain, etc., servants, instead of masters” (p. 216).
When the body tries to instead hijack our day or take over our sense of self by presenting us with pain or illness, it is important to know that we never need to give up our real sense of ourselves and our purpose. It’s not right to ignore pain or sickness – instead, through a clearer understanding of our spiritual identity, we find healing. Whatever is going on with our bodies or with our lives, our spiritual identity, which is the true “body” of all that we are, remains intact, always upheld and sustained by God.
Most of us don’t think of ourselves only as “bodies.” We identify with the people we love, the talents we have, and the qualities that make up who we are. There is no need to lose that sense of ourselves when a need for physical care arises in our lives.