Lessons From a Shadow
WHEN the light is just right, you can see your shadow. I'm sure you've noticed that shadows are very obedient-if you lift your arm, so will the shadow. Hold up three fingers, and there's perfect compliance.
Needless to say, it doesn't work the other way around. That is, the shadow doesn't raise its arm first, causing you to return the salute.
Then again, under certain conditions of light, your shadow may stretch itself out, perhaps to several times your actual height. But you're not fooled. You never think when that happens that you have grown. At other times your shadow may fall across a rough surface full of pits and cracks. No matter. The roughness isn't part of you. Now maybe your shadow's on the stairs, hopelessly bent out of shape. What about the original? Of course you're not bent. You don't even have to make a conscious effort to correct these false impressions. You would never take them seriously.
There are times, however, when we should be alert to correcting other kinds of impressions-different "false" shadows. Let's say you know someone who is stuck-up and unfriendly, or who always disrupts things and really gets under your skin. Or a bully or someone who uses illegal drugs.
You might feel a little human compassion and understanding-maybe such an individual has a tough homelife or other heavy problems you don't know about. But if you were practicing Christian Science, which was discovered by Mary Baker Eddy, you could do more than that. You could begin at the beginning-with God. You could remember learning from reading the Bible and another book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mrs. Eddy, that God is divine Spirit, or Love; that you and everyone else are made in His image, as the book of Genesis teaches (see chapter 1, verse 27). Because that person who seems difficult is, in truth, the spiritual reflection of God, he or she must really be Godlike in every detail-satisfied and loving.
You would remember that. You'd know that he or she is really never a mortal, with a mentality capable of any kind of evil. You would realize, having learned how to pray in accord with God's law, that he or she is no more a rotten individual than you are like the bent shadow on the stairs.
It's true that this thinking of yours might be going against everything you see someone do or hear someone say. But you would be basing your view on something deeper than that; on your spiritual understanding. And your understanding would be supported by Christ Jesus' own words: "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise" (John 5:19). In other words, God's children can't do anything evil, because they're good, the way He is good. In Science and Health you could read these words, which elaborate on this point: "Jesus taught but one God, one Spirit, who makes man in the image and likeness of Himself,-of Spirit, not of matter. Man reflects infinite Truth, Life, and Love" (p. 94). After you had replaced (mentally) those dark shadows of the troublesome person with the truth Jesus spoke of, you could trust God to harmonize everything in His own way.
A while ago, I was transferred to another job site. My new colleague there didn't like me from Day One-and he made it known with constant sarcasm, belittling comments, and coldness. More than once I felt like telling him off. Instead, I tried to turn the light of the truth of God onto the dark shadows in my own thought, which were portraying a co-worker as nasty. After four months there came a change in him-a softening. He became helpful and we started joking together. When my time was up at that job, and I went into his office to say goodbye, he stood up, grinning, and shook my hand. He told me he knew he had been pretty hard toward me and that he was sorry. He wished me well. Later I met him again, and it was good to see him.
The work of seeing beyond shadows can be enjoyable. And, while the need to correct things in your own thinking may arise often, the fact is that no shadowy misrepresentation of God's creation can darken the light that He gives us.