Recently I have been working with a letter that Mrs. Eddy wrote to Ira Packard: “You are held by a mesmeric belief to the thought that you cannot demonstrate Christian Science. Demand of yourself to awake from this glamour and know that it is false and a ‘liar from the beginning.’” (Mary Baker Eddy: Christian Healer, page 398)
I was working at home on some design calculations when a couple of very loud thumps interrupted me. I quickly glanced at the patio door and saw that two large birds had flown right into it. One fumbled a bit and flew off. The other, a male woodpecker, fell to the ground, injured. It flopped a bit, hunched over, wing outstretched. Not wanting to distress it further, I let it stay where it had fallen, and immediately “got to work.”
My first thought was, “Here’s my chance to prove what Mrs. Eddy wrote to Ira Packard—to prove that I, like Mr. Packard, cannot be held back by any mesmerism from demonstrating Science.” I immediately identified the picture of injury as a scenario of mesmerism, and I fought it by replacing the false picture with the truth. I declared that evil cannot misguide God’s creatures, thrusting them against a pane of glass and leaving them to suffer. They are loved and cared for by our Heavenly Father.
After falling, the bird had made a few feeble attempts to straighten itself out. But it was not able to lift its head, which was folded under its body. Trembling, the bird grew weaker. After some time, it stopped moving altogether. I looked at it now and again as I prayed, and frankly, it had the appearance of death. I was assailed by discouraging thoughts, such as, “This isn’t going to work,” and “It’s too late.” My heart sank with the sense of failure.
But then I caught myself and decided that I would leave the outcome to God and simply continue correcting the error presenting itself as my thought. That I certainly could do. So I fought the suggestion of death that had come to me. I knew that such a picture is mesmerism; it’s not real. God is Life, all Life, and there is no other life that can come to a violent end.
The bird remained motionless for a long while. I knew that my job was not really to “heal” it—that is, to remove the evidence or change the picture—but to stay with the truth and not give in to the mesmerism. So I did.
I got courage from knowing no mesmerism can last forever; sooner or later it has to break. I turned to the 91st Psalm. “Surely he shall deliver thee [little bird] from the snare of the fowler, … he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy [head] against a [patio door].”
God’s word is divine law. No false appearances can hold out against it, against God’s loving care for this creature and the true evidence of this love. “Thy kingdom is come” —God is in charge here and now. “Thy will be done”—His will is always life, never violent death.
I prayed like this continuously. At a certain point I thought I saw the bird twitch slightly. I watched … yes, there again.
Feeling that I had by now addressed all the points of error, yet still wanting to keep my thoughts with God, I opened Science and Health and simply read from it. When I next looked at the bird, I saw that it had folded its wing properly and lifted its head. I knew now it would be fine.
All this had taken quite a while, perhaps two hours. I remembered that when Mrs. Eddy healed someone, the symptoms did not always yield at once. It seemed to me I had done all I needed to, and I could leave the bird with God. I went back to my design work. After a while I looked up again, and the bird was gone. I was so disappointed to have missed seeing it fly away! I went outside to be sure it had not hobbled off somewhere, but no, it was gone.
While this is hardly the first Christian Science demonstration I’ve ever made, it’s the first one where I’ve stood up to the mesmerism of failure and faced it down. Waking up to this particular form of error answers that Biblical cry, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief!”
Here’s another thing I learned. While working for the bird, I’d had to deal with intruding concerns, such as, “If this healing isn’t accomplished by nightfall, shall I cover the bird with a bucket to protect it against raccoons? Will the stone it is lying on retain the sun’s warmth through the night? Should I leave it food, or at least some water?” and so on.
I soon realized that matter was trying to push its own claims and set its own conditions with those thoughts. They were distracting me from staying with the truth, so I put them all out. But those thoughts ended up becoming footholds for climbing out of the pit of unbelief. Pushing them aside was simply part of what needed to be done, not a reason to berate myself for having had them. “All things work together for good to them that love God”—even error, by coming forward so that it can be destroyed!
I feel as the 70 whom Jesus sent forth must have felt, when they came back with joy, saying, “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name”!