I confess I’ve never quite gotten a bead on this statement in Science and Health, by Mary Baker Eddy, embedded in the chapter on Creation:
“Through many generations human beliefs will be attaining diviner conceptions, and the immortal and perfect model of God’s creation will finally be seen as the only true conception of being.” (SH 260:8)
Why “many generations?” Was Mrs. Eddy telling me that, sad to say, there was just no way I was going to fathom the truth of this but my great-great grandkids might have a better shot at understanding it?
Fortunately, not quite. After (re)reading this statement in context, I began to see this statement in a new light. It’s not an admonition but a promise of hope and encouragement. It’s not about generations of people, but generations of thought. It’s not about time but about evolving realization. It’s more akin to what engineers refer to as “working the problem” – examining something from multiple angles and persisting until a solution transparently presents itself. And as these “diviner concepts” continue to expand beyond material boundaries into the spiritual realm, thought reaches a point of lift off, rising to where it “expands into expression” (SH 255:1-3).
Here’s an example. Last week we decided to duck out of town for a few days to catch up on a little rest in warmth and sunshine while the East Coast was being pummeled by a late winter storm. Upon arriving at the airport that morning we were delighted to learn that that our flight had not been cancelled but was scheduled for an on time departure.
We eagerly boarded, and after a two-hour de-icing the plane at long last taxied out to the runway. However, about two thirds of the way down the runway we heard a loud explosion, followed by several more loud bangs. The plane shuddered, and we smelled something burning. I was disappointed that the take-off would have to be aborted (e.g. so much for the vacation!). But as I looked out the window I discovered that the plane was actually aloft but losing speed and altitude and continuing to shake. The plane was descending into the forest that lay beyond the runway. The passengers were aware that something was deeply amiss. A woman in the seat behind me began to scream in fear.
Let me describe the generations of thought that came to me – over I’d say 20 to 30 seconds – with no apparent effort on my part.
1. First generation: “well , this is interesting.” (I was calm. Curious, but calm.)
2. Second generation: “Everyone is taken care of” (My family was safe and in a good place – hopeful and still calm.)
3. Third generation: “I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth.”
As many will recognize, this is from Isaiah (58:14), and was included in the Responsive Reading in a recent Bible Lesson. But this wasn’t a mere nice thought, a rote repetition of a Bible verse that seemed somewhat applicable. It was a statement of clear, tangible concrete spiritual fact, a declaration of sheer spiritual reality, present in the here and now. This had the power and immediacy of the Christ behind it, and I felt that Christ-like power. It was breathtaking. I felt – literally – lifted up, surrounded, carried, embraced. I was being advanced “to a higher plane of action” where “thought rises”. (SH 256:2-5) The peace and serenity was undeniable.
I turned to the distraught woman in the row behind us and asked quietly with a smile: “everything all right?” She looked at me, and instantly calmed down as did several other passengers sitting nearby. All was quiet. The plane appeared unable to gain much in the way of air speed, but the descent had been halted and the shuddering ceased. We slowly climbed to above cloud level, banked a few times, and heard from the captain in a wonderfully calm Texan-infused drawl that “well, we thought we’d just mosey on back to the airport and have a look.” He assured everyone that “all the systems were working just fine”. We banked a few more times and returned to the airport, greeted by a phalanx of emergency vehicles all awaiting the worst. The plane landed smoothly without a hitch.
It was only later than we learned that because of the ice the plane had completely lost one of its two engines, and the captain was forced to take off and fly around with only one working engine. But he did so calmly and competently. As I got off the plane, I thanked him for his professionalism and cool and added that I’d be sharing this story with others. He smiled and nodded his approval.