I would like to share a result of reading the compilation of healings in our Association assignment.
For the last two years as ACOP at our branch church, I have been asked to speak about Christian Science to a class on contemporary religions at our local high school. I must mention at the outset that while I am usually comfortable speaking in public (it has been part of my job), I have not been at all comfortable speaking about Christian Science publicly.
Last year my presentation to just one class required several weeks of concerted prayer to alleviate the fear of misspeaking or of getting contentious or complex questions that I was not prepared to handle. That presentation went quite well, with very few questions from the students or the teacher. The teacher was most grateful and asked that I return this year. I should add that the teacher really had no knowledge of Christian Science, other than the fact that there was a church in her community, but had been adamant that my presentation reflect my personal experiences with my religion.
When our church held its lecture this fall, it seemed appropriate to extend an invitation to this teacher and her students. And while she was not able to attend, she sent me a thank you note and a reminder that I was still “on the hook” for her class this year.
When the invitation for this year came, the teacher asked me to include additional personal experiences in my remarks. Again, I felt it was essential to be prayerfully prepared, and spent about a week in listening and researching ideas. The day before I was scheduled to speak, I sent an email to the teacher to confirm the time and location. In her response, she asked that I be prepared to talk to two classes, back-to-back.
When I got home that evening, our 2012 Association assignment had just arrived. Before turning to my final preparatory work for speaking, I sat down to preview the compilation.
That evening I got only as far as the first article, the one about the soldier in Vietnam. Having been in the military during that conflict, I found this account quite riveting, but even more so when I read the name of the writer, Doug Keith. I realized I knew him personally—we had served on a board together for several years. I must admit that the content of the article, the timing of its arrival, and knowing the writer all raised the hair on the back of my neck—this was a not random happening. As I concluded my preparation for speaking, it occurred to me to consider sharing Doug’s story, should it seem appropriate.
The two classes I met with the next day were the complete opposite of the class I had spoken to the previous year. The two groups, each of about 25 students, were very engaged, and my presentations turned into two rapid-fire Q&A sessions. I could never have formally prepared for the range of questions I was asked—or for the answers I was given—during those two 45-minute classes. (So much for my prepared outline!)
The minute I brought up spiritual healing, the students began to pepper me with questions about healing: How did it work? How was it different from medical treatment? Was it faith healing? Had I personally experienced healings?
I found that the students had no idea of spiritual creation as unfolded in the first chapter of Genesis—it was so hard for them to understand how man could be spiritual. I quickly found I just had to stay with the very elemental points regarding Mrs. Eddy and Christian Science, relate them to the key parts of the Bible, and then attempt to make it relevant by sharing healings that I knew of personally.
I shared three healings—my own healing of depression after suffering from it for over 35 years, my mother’s complete healing of a severe heart attack, and Doug’s article from our assignment. While all three were significant healings, they covered a range of “reality” these students could understand. (Much like the compendium you assembled for us.) The healings carried the day. Each time I shared one; there was complete silence in the room.
When I left the school, I was worrying that I had not done a good job, as there was so much more to share and discuss. I should not have worried. …When I sent my follow-up thank you to the teacher, I got this response (copied directly from her email):
The afternoon was a gift. I found myself thinking quite a bit about the points in Genesis that you mentioned. A lot to ponder. Thank you for sharing your views with the kids. I am sure they really enjoyed it.
See you next year, I hope!