A Christian Science perspective.
As the rain poured down on the lodge roof, we were all tucked in for the concert – the closing activity of a reunion celebrating the 100-year anniversary of a summer camp in Maine that has supported my spiritual growth for over 40 years. A woman who had been at camp in the 1930s and was a world-renowned pianist was to perform on the modest upright piano that has served our church services and hymn sings for years.
Given the state of the piano and the fact that this woman had retired from her career, I thought this might be simply another camp production, one that we all deeply appreciate at any level of soulful offering, just because it’s camp. But as she began to play a Chopin nocturne, something holy occurred. Everyone in that room felt it. That old upright sang so sweetly under her masterly touch that we held our breath. And I thought, as I listened and gently swayed to the music, “So this is what it means for God to be Soul.”
It was a truly transparent performance – technically brilliant but transcendent beyond any personal performance or preference for a genre of music. We all agreed afterward that we felt like Moses must have when he saw the burning bush and took off his shoes because he knew he was on holy ground. We were in the presence of God, wrapped in Soul.
The subject for the Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly for that week just happened to be “Soul.” I had been thinking so much all week about the nature of God as Soul. As I studied and prayed, I had gotten some new insights into the self-glorifying, self-assuring, self-validating, nature of God’s All-in-allness. There is only one Soul, and it holds all of us as its self-expression. True happiness, contentment, peace, health, and supply come from being wrapped in Soul. Soul is our context, our premise, our very source of expression. So all the artistry, beauty, wisdom, grace, and power in the universe are held in Soul.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, points out: “Mind is not necessarily dependent upon educational processes. It possesses of itself all beauty and poetry, and the power of expressing them. Spirit, God, is heard when the senses are silent. We are all capable of more than we do. The influence or action of Soul confers a freedom, which explains the phenomena of improvisation and the fervor of untutored lips” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 89).
Think of it! We are all capable of expressing untold beauty and poetry; in fact, we are all made to do this. Our very being as Soul’s expression is powerful beyond measure to comfort, inspire, and heal. No matter what our circumstances are, as we silence the physical senses, we can hear God, Spirit. And this feeling of God, this presence of Soul, is the sweetest comfort imaginable. We feel wrapped in Love, held in goodness, surrounded and supported by Soul.
Perhaps we’ve all had these transcendent feelings of Soul’s embrace, when in some unplanned moment we are moved to a holy place by a musician’s transparent performance, the breathless hush of beauty as the sun glistens through early morning fog on a lake, the reverie of a friendship that communes wordlessly together by the warmth of a fire. But after that piano performance, I found myself wondering, is there a way to access this embrace of Soul more consistently? After all, Soul is the very atmosphere we live in as God’s spiritual ideas. Why don’t we feel it more powerfully and consistently?
My answer came. That next Wednesday night at our Christian Science testimony meeting, I observed our congregation do what it does so regularly. We started off as a group of people listening to readings of inspiring passages from the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health. There was goodness in just that level of sharing, in just the earnest listening, but not what I would call transcendence.
But then when the testimonies of healing started, I could tangibly sense the congregation demanding to feel Soul’s embrace. I could feel the mental climate that would not be satisfied with a lack of sharing from this small congregation, nor a perfunctory sharing to fill the silence. Each testimony reached for an intimacy of truthful sharing, an outpouring of the heart, a true witness that touched the very core of reality, a back-and-forth responding to one another’s inspiration that lifted the praise of God to the heavens. And by the time the service was over, I felt on holy ground.
So, there it was, the answer to my question. Yes, it is possible to intentionally access “the holy of holies.” We are already in it! We have every right to live our lives in the embrace of Soul and at the point of total inspiration. And we can access it through humble, earnest, importunate delight in God.