Knowing Who We Are
I WAS so intrigued by the opening scenes of a recent television movie that I settled in for two hours of suspenseful make-believe. The heroine, suffering from amnesia, could not remember her true identity. It was only at the end--with her memory restored, all mysteries solved, and her happiness assured--that I realized I'd been captivated by one more version of what I think of as the basic amnesia plot. This classic, ancient fiction pattern is beloved of story-tellers and audiences, and new variations of
this plot constantly appear in plays, movies, novels.
As I considered this latest encounter with the amnesia plot, I realized that I am especially drawn to these stories not just for entertainment but for another, surprisingly profound, reason.
To me this ancient story pattern is an allegory symbolizing the moving and glorious healing and learning experiences that have come to me through the study of Christian Science, the religion discovered and founded by Mary Baker Eddy more than a hundred years ago. The healings I've had include the whole range, from what might seem trivial annoyances to a condition that had been medically diagnosed as cancer.
Christian Science began to awaken me to my own true identity, which is spiritual. I'd heard and read the Biblical story of creation many, many times; but Mrs. Eddy's illumination of it, her presentation of the man of God's creating as spiritual and eternally perfect, the very image and likeness of his creator, was revelation to me. And although it was a startling and, to me, even shocking new concept in the beginning, as I was willing at least to consider Mrs. Eddy's explanation, I began to understand wh at she was saying about mankind's unnecessary subjection to sin, sickness, and death.
"Whatever is cherished in mortal mind as the physical condition is imaged forth on the body," she writes in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 411). By "mortal mind," I understood, she meant not the mind of God's spiritual creation, but the material, mortal, finite mind that the Bible calls the "carnal mind."
After I began studying Christian Science, I also started to think of myself, at least some of the time, as I had to have been created by God--spiritual and perfect. This helped me understand a little better the momentous implications of the fact that Christ Jesus said "our Father"--not just my father--again and again as he healed every human sickness and sorrow, and made his own final triumph over death.
My own first healings occurred when I was able to comprehend, to some degree, the idea that I am the child of God and reflect His divine nature.
After the movie the other night, I contemplated my own gratitude and joy at knowing what it means to come at last into awareness of one's true identity--which has always been there. There swept into my consciousness the majestic and beautiful climax of Christ Jesus' parable of the prodigal son.
After having obtained his inheritance early, the young man wasted it all. He began living in degradation, want, and fear. But this was not who he really was. "And when he came to himself," we read in the Bible in Luke's Gospel, he remembered how generous his father was to everyone in the household. He was willing to work as a household servant. He decided, "I will arise and go to my father" (15:17, 18). His father had always been his father, but now that the son was humbly willing to correct his faults, he was lovingly welcomed home by his father, was cherished and restored to his place of sonship.
Recalling this story, I knew with fresh clarity that knowing who and what we are--spiritual children of God--brings healing.
Mrs. Eddy explains the healings of Christ Jesus when she says in Science and Health: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick" (pp. 476-477).
And so I am confident, since we are all of God's creating, that in each of us there is the genuine longing and the ability to understand the truth of who we are as God created us. The fullness of God's creation, man, is already what is true of each of us. And we can know that this is our true being--that we are not subject to forgetting even a tiny part of it. When we accept this fact, we do not have to "arise and go" to the Father because we are already there, aware and secure in the realization of what
this means. We are established in our Father's love, pure and perfect, reflecting the Life and Love that is God.
O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! . . . . When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet. Psalms 8:1, 3-6