My cat and the picture hook
December 12, 2013
I have a cat – several, actually – but this story is about one in particular. I recently removed a picture from my office to a temporary new location. The wall is now completely bare except for the picture hook. My cat has been fascinated by the hook which – apparently – looks like a bug on the wall from her feline perspective. She’s climbed on the chair close by to swat it and sniff it, not just once but multiple times. Each time, it’s still just a picture hook. But she is not deterred.
While this may appear to be a particularly cat-like idiosyncrasy, it’s also very much a part of human nature. Look at this story from the Bible book of John: Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, has come to Jesus in secret. He wants to have a conversation with The Master about spiritual things but is caught off-guard by Jesus’ statement “ye must be born again.” Picturing a horrendous re-entry through the birth canal, he asks, “can [a man] enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (chapter 3:1-12)
That picture of the human process preoccupies Nicodemus such that he can’t grasp the larger significance of the profound message of spiritual new birth. Jesus chides him with these words: “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?”
How often do we focus – to our distinct disadvantage – on the human pictures and procedures, and completely miss the spiritual opportunities that are right in front of us? How often are we riveted by whatever the issue may be, instead of lifting thought to a more godlike orientation? Salvation doesn’t come by mucking about in the problem, but by more consistently – and more humbly – turning to God for His direction and guidance.
That’s really in keeping with the First Commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) A passage in Deuteronomy makes it even clearer: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (chapter 6:5) It’s hard to love God that much if you’re looking away from Him at whatever is not Him.
Mary Baker Eddy offers this observation: “The sharp experiences of belief in the supposititious life of matter, as well as our disappointments and ceaseless woes, turn us like tired children to the arms of divine Love.” (Science and Health page 322)
I am happy to say that, just like my cat, you will eventually learn that there is no fulfillment in continuing to believe that the picture hook is a bug. Life, real life – God’s Life – is much more satisfying than anything else you can do. Let’s start there!
Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.