Of Books and Angels
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
I live alone, but I never feel alone. Although people might think of me as a senior citizen, I don't feel like one. Sometimes I wonder how it is that life has afforded me such contentment, but then I remember. I have always known God is with me. Does this make me special? No, because it is true of everyone.
Ben Jonson wrote: "When I would know thee ... my thought looks / Upon thy well made choice of friends and books; / Then do I love thee, and behold thy ends / In making thy friends books, and thy books friends." Someone once advised me, "Don't read good books. Read only the best books." I haven't always done that, but I find myself increasingly drawn to books that afford me genuine pleasure. And the two that stand out have been the Holy Bible and "Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy. The Bible contains the Word of God. Science and Health, the textbook of Christian Science, explains this Word, especially in the light of what Jesus Christ taught.
My mother introduced me to these books very early in life. She considered the weekly Christian Science Lesson-Sermon, which draws from these two books, to be as important to our welfare as our breakfast itself. Consequently, she saw to it that we had time to read it each morning and that we were never hurried. I considered reading the Lesson not to be a duty, but rather a kind of spiritual breakfast. It was interesting and enjoyable to me.
Later, when I was on my own, I let this practice of Bible study slip away from me. I remember a time during World War II when I happened to see a picture on the front page of a newspaper that impressed me deeply, a photograph of a book burning in Germany on a street corner. I wondered if people who studied Christian Science there had been able to hide their Bibles and Science and Healths from the Third Reich, or if those books, too, were in that blazing pile.
Nothing makes us value anything quite as much as the threat of its being taken away. I resolved at that moment to make those books my own again. My mother and father were no longer with me, but in a way the books could, and did, keep them close to me. Whenever I felt frustrated, lonely, tired, or discouraged, those precious books never failed to bring comfort and strength.
For other reasons, too, I found myself being drawn to them. I wanted to know the meaning of life, find direction and purpose, know how to choose the right husband, schooling, career. Also, my family had relied on prayer rather than on medical help in times of illness, and I needed to know more about prayer if I was to continue in this practice.
Even with our sincere efforts to be good, human nature sometimes leads us into paths that cause stumbling and suffering. At these times, I'd especially find my two books of help in lifting me up and setting me straight again.
No book can in and of itself take the place of individual growth and inspiration. But the Bible and Science and Health can help to prime the pump. Their truth brings both into our lives. And that's where the angels move in.
According to Science and Health, angels are "God's thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality" (Pg. 581). The 91st Psalm says God "shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways" and promises, "With long life will I [God] satisfy him, and shew him my salvation." Sometimes I can almost hear aloud God's messages, telling me what to do, where to go, how to think. Causing me to feel deeply grateful. Helping me to love others. Giving me moments of joy and inspiration and even helping me find humor in things. Christian Science shows that God is always at hand. Whenever I choose to listen to His messages, they are the best of companions!
If I could give some grandmotherly advice to anyone at any stage of life, it would be: "Consider these books. Get acquainted with what they say about God. Learn to entertain angels daily in your thoughts. You will never be lonely when you live with these companions. Nor will you lack any needful thing in your life. Don't wait to discover the richness that is yours from God. You can claim it right now!