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Navigating troubled waters

A Christian Science perspective: If we listen, we can be directed out of danger.

In my hands was a Chinese silkscreen of persimmons. I had been asked to deliver it to my father, roughly three counties away.

“I believe it’s the best in our collection,” the curator said.

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My eyes widened in agreement, and he said, “Now make sure it gets to your father and doesn’t end up on the wall of your own apartment.”

While we laughed, I thought it was an oddly specific order. The moment he made the joke, I had an inkling that I would be doing the very action he asked me not to do. Not because I had any desire to do it, but because I had a strong, matter-of-fact sense that I would. It wasn’t based on fear or my imagination. I could think of no rational reason why it would end up on my apartment wall a couple of states away before it would end up on my father’s wall some towns away. Yet, the thought persisted. So I decided I needed to pay attention to it.

My upbringing in Christian Science had taught me to pay attention to such strong, calm intuitions, much as we would a conscience. Such intuitions, if they are spiritually based in our understanding of God, are actually angels. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, describes angels not as ethereal beings with wings, but as “God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 581).

According to the teachings of Christian Science, these thoughts are natural for anyone to hear, because God and man are linked: God is creator, and man is created in the image and likeness of God, as explained, for instance, in the first chapter of Genesis. Mrs. Eddy defines God as “The great I AM; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind;… all substance; intelligence” (Science and Health, p. 587). We reflect this divine Mind, as God’s image. We each individually express the infinite capacities of all-knowing intelligence. It would follow, then, that the divine intelligence could direct us to where we need to be, because an all-loving God ensures the safety of its own creation.

While I drove to my parents’ house, it had been raining the majority of my trip, and as I neared the exit to their house, the pavement rippled with rain.

Another strong intuition came, this time to take another route. This would have taken me farther away from my parents’ house. I thought the longer I stayed out in the rain, the worse it would get, and that my best bet would be to take the shorter route. But a puddle appeared on that shorter route, and I hydroplaned.

It became immediately clear that my own reasoning could not be trusted – I should have been listening to these spiritual intuitions, as logical or illogical as they seemed. A proverb from the Bible states: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5, 6).

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In that moment, I regained control of the car and realized just how literally I needed to rely – and could rely – on that biblical passage. I didn’t hesitate to follow the next thought that came, that I could make it through the next puddle.

As daunting as the inches of water in front of me looked – even larger than the first puddle I had trouble with – I did make it through without losing control of the car, and I immediately got onto the highway to my own house a few hours away, obediently avoiding the road to my parents’ house. I didn’t ask to know why I needed to avoid the road I had tried so earnestly to get to, but the next day I learned why. The day of my trip made international news. Flood levels were higher than they had been in over 500 years. Houses and storefronts had significant water damage, and roads – including the road I was led not to turn down – had actually washed away. But while a presidential disaster declaration was issued that day, no one was hurt or swept away in the flood.

I did end up hanging the silkscreen on my wall in my apartment some states away, but after the road to my parents’ house was repaved, I delivered it as promised.

To this day, I don’t second-guess these spiritual intuitions, and I rely on them to navigate decisions, relationships, parenthood, career paths, and life goals. By relying on divine Mind, I’ve avoided countless literal and figurative disasters, and I’m immensely grateful for our God-given right to wisdom.