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We all know it when we see it: parents and children, spouses, friends, even strangers caring for, reaching out to, and helping one another.  This is love in action.  It has many different expressions: tenderness, assistance, listening, protecting, cherishing, comforting, aiding, lifting.  The list is long and we each could add many words to it.

And because we know what it looks like, we know when it’s missing too.

What can be done about that?

Is it really missing?  If God is Love as the Bible says (1st John 4:8), and God fills all space (Deut 4:39), also as the Bible says, how could love really be missing?  What is actually missing is our recognition of it.

If our premise is that Love is everywhere, we will expect to see it, expect to know it, right where it seems to be missing.  When it seems impossible to see love – in a disaster, or a sick room, or a political rally – close your eyes to the picture and open your heart to the reality of Love’s ever presence.  Don’t let go of Love until you are convinced that even right there in the thick of unloveliness, Love is at work.  Quietly.  Safely.  Permanently.

This is what Jesus did.  His conviction of the power and presence of Love enabled him to pass through an angry crowd unharmed (Luke 4:29,30); to raise to life the daughter of parents engulfed in sorrow (Mark 5:42); to feed a multitude too hungry and tired to fend for themselves (Matt 14:20); and the greatest example of Love at work, to resurrect himself from the grave (John 20:17) to prove that even there Love prevails.

These were not just isolated instances.  The Gospels are filled with stories of Love overcoming misery and despair.  And even after Jesus’ ascension, his disciples, and their disciples, and their disciples after that, continued to prove the healing and saving power of love right where love seemed to be missing.

And we can do the same today.

It doesn’t require any special power or even any religious affiliation.  It simply is a matter of holding in thought that love is stronger than hate, that it casts out fear, that it soothes and comforts.  Even in the face of that which is definitely not love.

Doing so introduces a new possibility into the mix, one not so convinced of the ugliness or sadness or terror.  That little glimmer of hope actually begins to reveal how love has been at work, quietly under the surface – but there all along.

When you look for it, you see it.  And rather than being aghast at its absence you will see its curative power gently dissolving every unloveliness.

Yes, it requires effort.  Yes, it requires consistency.  Yes, it even requires faith – faith that one person can make a difference.  But isn’t that better than the alternatives of hopelessness or indifference?

Divine Love is here.  Hold your ground in expectation that you can see it at work.  And then look for evidence of your conviction.

I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.  For Love is loving you too.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

“Oh come on, the Sabbath’s my day off.  Tell them to come back tomorrow.”

“Don’t overdo it.  Forgive once or twice, and then nail them.”

“Did you see the way that Pharisee looked at me?  And when he leaned over to the scribe next to him I was outta there.”

“There were only five and I was hungry too.  What am I supposed to do?  Share?”

“Hey guys, take your swords and hold off Judas and his gang while I sneak out the back gate and get away.”

“Look, I’m happy to come and heal your son.  Don’t get me wrong.  But does it have to be right now?”

“That man at the pool was extremely ungrateful.  It just wasn’t worth my time.”

“People, stop crowding me.  I am too busy and important for you to be this close.”

“Sure, I can jump from this pinnacle.  There’re angels down there to catch me, right?”

“I’m not going to leave these ninety-nine sheep just to go find one careless one that wandered off.”

Anybody who knows the teachings of Christ Jesus knows that he would never say any of these things.  His words, and especially his works, were intended to bless and heal.  And they did, in countless ways.    Even today, they still do.

Here are some things he actually said:

  • Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  (Matt 11:28)
  • Love one another.  (John 13:35)
  • I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.  (John 10:10)
  • Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.  (Luke 6:20)
  • Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.  (Mark 2:11)

The Christly power behind Jesus’ words and works is still active today.  And if we catch ourselves being unkind in word or deed, or thinking only of our own needs and not more inclusively of others, we can simply turn to his example.  Every effort to bless others blesses us too.  And that’s a good thing.

Ask yourself: what would Jesus say?  You can say it too, and mean it!  (John 14:12)

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

Who do you love?

February 27, 2015

Spouse, kids, perhaps extended family. Maybe a few close friends.  Pretty easy to put a list together.

Okay.  What about enemies?  What about strangers?  What about people of other religions or of no religion?  Or people of the other political party?  Or those who don’t look or sound like you?  Or don’t live where or how you live?

What about that person who offended you?  Or whose parents offended your parents?  Or whose country offended your country?

The reasons to not love someone are pretty extensive, aren’t they?

Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, is that some big deal?  Even sinners do that.”  (Luke 6:32)  He demanded something more, something fuller, something like how God loved him, and he loved us.

What does it mean to love everybody and why is it important?  After all, there are over 7 billion people.  Must we love them all?

In a word, yes.  This is a love that is unconditional.  It loves regardless of circumstances.  It loves whether one is loved back.  It loves even in the face of hatred, violence, and death. This is the kind of love God had for the world when He sent His beloved son.  (John 3:16) And it’s the kind of love Jesus had for the world when he went to the cross.  It’s the kind of love that’s expected of us.

Tall order.

But we can make a lot of progress if we start now.  Be kinder.  Be more forgiving.  Be more helpful.  Pray more.  But more than that, challenge all of the thoughts that tell you someone is not lovable – for any reason.   And then love them anyway.

Don’t you think this will go a long way to making a more lovely and loving world?  And who doesn’t want that?

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

Rejoice!

November 26, 2014

Today and everyday, let your heart be filled with gratitude for the power and presence of God “who daily loadeth us with benefits.”  (Ps 68:19)  For “this is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  (Ps 118:24)  Indeed!

Enjoy this poem by Ethel Wasgatt Dennis

A grateful heart a garden is,
Where there is always room
For every lovely, Godlike grace
To come to perfect bloom.

A grateful heart a fortress is,
A staunch and rugged tower,
Where God’s omnipotence, revealed,
Girds man with mighty power.

A grateful heart a temple is,
A shrine so pure and white,
Where angels of His presence keep
Calm watch by day or night.

Grant then, dear Father-Mother, God,
Whatever else befall,
This largess of a grateful heart
That loves and blesses all.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my dear followers and friends.  May your day be filled with rejoicing.  Here are some other wonderful articles too:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141124173621-14383197-nurture-a-gratitude-attitude-say-entrepreneur

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ingrid-peschke/gratitudechallenge-from-t_b_6185256.html

http://gettingbalance.com/does-gratitude-impact-our-health-and-happiness/

http://www.healthycal.org/archives/17068

http://toledofavs.com/2014/11/25/lincolns-thanksgiving-day-proclamation-gratitude-in-hardship/

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

…don’t say anything at all.  We all grew up with that directive from parents and teachers.  It’s still practical today.  With all the differing viewpoints on just about everything from politics to celebrity behavior and religion to health and everything in between, it’s become so easy to just put our opinion out there and let the chips fall where they may.  If we offend someone, no big deal.

Jesus had a different idea about that.  He said, “all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”  It’s called the Golden Rule and it’s found in the Sermon on the Mount.  (Matt chapters 5 to 7)  It requires of us, even when we have strong feelings about something, to speak in a way that elevates the conversation and respects the other players – whether you know them or not; to temper our words with kindness.

It doesn’t mean that we don’t say or do the tough things that need to be said and done.  Jesus had some strong words and did some very hard things out of the deepest love for his fellow man.  For example, look how he rebuked Peter who had just confirmed that his Master was the hoped for Christ, when the disciple suggested Jesus shouldn’t allow himself to be crucified.  He said, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”  (Matt 16:23)

And that is precisely where we get into trouble today: by acting from our own human sense of “how it should be” instead of from a more divinely directed outlook.  God has bestowed on man useful qualities such as patience, intelligence, courage, meekness – what Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit. (Gal 5:22,23)  And to the extent that we subjugate our own willful tendencies to these higher expressions do we move conversations and relationships forward in a more harmonious way.

Everyone has the capacity to contribute something positive to every event.  Does that mean then, that we just add fluff when the substance is too hard to handle?  Of course not.  Fluff is not in keeping with the Golden Rule any more than crudity or unkindness.  If it’s our place to add substance to the discussion, we should do it – charitably and with brotherly kindness.

Mary Baker Eddy once wrote, “It requires the spirit of our blessed Master to tell a man his faults, and so risk human displeasure for the sake of doing right and benefiting our race.”  (Science and Health p. 571)  This is a useful guideline for determining both our motives and our process.

Every step, every word, every thought – to the extent that we are watchful and prayerful, and especially willing – can be taken in a spirit of love.  Love can sooth, it can lift, it can compel, it can correct.  It can even heal, as Jesus showed.

The Apostle Paul put forth a wonderful sense of the power and requirements of love in his first epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 13.  This version is from JB Phillips:   If I speak with the eloquence of men and of angels, but have no love, I become no more than blaring brass or crashing cymbal. If I have the gift of foretelling the future and hold in my mind not only all human knowledge but the very secrets of God, and if I also have that absolute faith which can move mountains, but have no love, I amount to nothing at all. If I dispose of all that I possess, yes, even if I give my own body to be burned, but have no love, I achieve precisely nothing. This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience – it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.  Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.  Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.  In this life we have three great lasting qualities – faith, hope and love. But the greatest of them is love.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

What’s trending…

July 26, 2014

You see that “announcement” frequently on news and social media sites.  It’s about the latest in gossip and current events. Although the intent is to track what’s happening in the world, it’s more about what’s happening in people’s conversations about what’s happening in the world.

This post isn’t really about that though, but about what’s trending in thought.   You see, whatever the trend is in one’s thinking, tends to be the experience of that thinker.  Have you noticed that?  Whatever occupies your thought, whether it’s  fear or joy, hatred or gratitude, illness or health, is what you see in yourself and others.  The author of Proverbs wrote centuries ago, “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  (23:7)

It’s called preoccupation and comes from the Latin meaning “to take possession beforehand.”  It was originally what you might call a real-estate term from the middle ages literally meaning to occupy something before it belonged to you – and there’s still an element of that in its current usage, though of a mental nature. Now it is used to describe that quality of thought that is self-absorbed or obsessed with a particular viewpoint, accurate or not.

We don’t always notice it in ourselves, but we do notice it in others.  And in so doing, we recognize that it is neither useful nor productive.  At least when the conditions of our preoccupation are negative.

Because we also notice when someone is always joyful regardless of circumstances.  Or when someone is always healthy, even when those around him or her are struggling with contagion.  Or when someone always reaches out to help even when their own circumstances may be tenuous.

Mary Baker Eddy expected that kind of preoccupation when she wrote, “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.”  (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, page 261)  She understood the nature of the human mind, especially its tendency to focus on what is frightening or missing.  This simple instruction helps to move the thinker to a higher, broader more spiritual position where solutions can be found and enacted.

Learning to shift thought this way simply comes from doing it.  From catching yourself feeling down or agitated and deliberately choosing a more positive outlook.  And if that outlook is based on a God-like view, it’s not just positive thinking, it’s prayer.  This is how Jesus thought, prayed, healed.  And the Apostle Paul told us to “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil 2:5)  We can do that!

What’s trending in your thought?

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

Pray it forward.

April 3, 2014

That’s a new take on an old theme.  We’ve all heard “pay” it forward, a wonderful way to take the good you’ve received and keep it moving on and out through deeds of kindness.  Pray it forward is simply building on that theme.  Add a special prayer to your actions to keep the good alive and well as it makes its way into the world.  Bless it with wings of healing that its good may grow and its worth blossom.  And know that your fellow doers are encouraged and benefited to keep this sweet, strong prayer going.

This is our gift to each other – regardless of who each of us is.  Does it matter?  To bless one another through prayer is the highest gift we can give and the dearest way to love our neighbors – both local and global – as ourselves.  And to know that hungry hearts are fed, and the poor in spirit lifted, gives our prayers special impetus where the need is greatest.

It doesn’t take much more to follow-up your helping gestures with a happy prayer.  Nor would it be unusual to hope that the good done to you was prayerfully forwarded, as well.

And when it feels as though there is nothing else to do or give, that is when our prayers are most needed.  Gentle arms of prayer-filled care can wipe away the hardest knocks and the deepest sorrow.

Keep it going, pray it forward.  It will only bless you.  And then, do it again.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.