Room for the roots
`THERE'S a surprise in there,'' grinned my friend, the fifth-grader, as he gave me an African violet in a three-inch pot. He was right! A few days later I was indeed surprised to notice a huge sprout crowding the tiny violet, then another and another. In all, six pumpkin seeds had been poked into the soil of that small pot. Every one of them sprouted and grew rapidly for a brief time, then withered away because there was no room for the roots. When they were removed, the little violet thrived and bloomed vigorously. Is it possible to find room for the unlimited spiritual growth that Christianity requires? Christian Science answers that it is not only possible but essential. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of this Science, states, ``The great miracle, to human sense, is divine Love, and the grand necessity of existence is to gain the true idea of what constitutes the kingdom of heaven in man.''1
Christ Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed, which he said ``indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.''2 Jesus' own life demonstrated the great healing potential of that seed. Roots planted firmly and deeply in the purity of spiritual love resulted in the greatest power for good the world has ever known.
If the seed of heavenly harmony, health, and holiness is to take root and grow in the lives of Jesus' followers, great individual purification must take place. Impatience, indifference, selfishness, must be pulled out by the roots to make room for Godlike qualities such as genuine love for one another. Silent prayer that acknowledges God's nature as ever-present Love and the powerful influence of Love on individual lives must not be confined to certain times of the day or week but be perpetual, helping to purify thought and form attitudes of gentleness and compassion that find expression throughout the day. Such prayer helps bring into view more and more of the eternal truth of God and man -- the truth that man is God's spiritual image, never less than the pure expression of the divine nature. This prayer marks our activities and relationships with honesty, wisdom, and Christly calm.
One Sunday afternoon I sighed as I thought of the crush of requirements for the week ahead. Wondering how I could squeeze into the schedule my daily time for prayer and study, I reached for the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mrs. Eddy. As I did so, I realized how that action had established my priority for the day. I saw clearly that the pressure of commitments could not diminish my relationship to God; rather, it was my permanent inseparability from Him that influenced all the good I did.
The prayer that began each day was not a frail seedling soon choked by growing responsibilities but the strong, developing support of spiritual wisdom and understanding to direct every thought, action, and word of my day. As the week progressed, each moment became a fresh opportunity to affirm my direct relationship to God and to express it openly. That week was productive beyond my expectations; there was no feeling of rush or fatigue. Roots of spiritual development, far from being crowded out, were actually finding unconfined space to grow throughout the business of each day.
Jesus was emphatic about root room. He concluded the parable of the sower by declaring, ``He that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.''3
If we cherish that Christly seed enough to give it unlimited room to govern every moment of our days, it will develop into a strong network of spiritual nourishment that can form a firm foundation for increasing usefulness and happiness. Such roots, developing quietly in prayer, become openly and beautifully visible in the way we live our lives.
1Science and Health, p. 560. 2Matthew 13:32. 3Matthew 13:23.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Matthew 15:13