In response to the first question in this past year’s Association assignment, “What did you find in the book that you would particularly like to pass along to fellow Scientists or family members or even those who know little of Christian Science?” I have selected two ideas (of a vast array of possibilities) that seemed to jump off the page when I initially read them and they remain as striking to me now, as they did then.
In Anna B. White Baker’s reminiscence she includes MBE’s “Advice for parents.” As a parent (constantly in learning mode) and Sunday School teacher (for a group of energetic young boys) I was intrigued to read that “Mrs. Eddy told us not to thrust Christian Science on the children, saying that if it influenced home or school, they would unfold naturally in its atmosphere. Otherwise, if forced to listen, to read, and [to] live by the rules of any religion, children naturally rebelled and turned from it.” (WKMBEII, p. 313) Anna Baker then relayed an incident MBE shared with her to illustrate this and concluded “… Mrs. Eddy did not approve of the mistaken zeal that would thrust Christian Science unsought upon anyone [and thought] that to do so [would] injure the Cause and subject it to unjust criticism.”
A second idea I continue to ponder is found in Adam H. Dickey’s reminiscence under the heading, “Following God’s lead.” (p. 427) He states: “One of the chief characteristics displayed by Mrs. Eddy was her accuracy in everything she undertook. She left nothing unfinished or uncertain but carried everything out with most painstaking exactness. She was unusually careful in her choice of words and would many times hold a letter for hours, refusing to allow it to go out until she had found the exact word to express her meaning.” Adam Dickey goes on to explain how this often led to numerous corrections and led to a perception Mrs. Eddy herself noted, “…people say I am changeable—-that I change my mind frequently.” I appreciated that an explanation for this is offered in MBE’s own words: “I do change my mind frequently, but when I do, it is always God that changes me…. There have been times in working out a problem when I have not known just what step to take, and finding it necessary to make a move of some sort, I have taken a step as nearly as I could in the right direction. Perhaps I would find out shortly that it was wrong, but this step gave me a new point of view that I would not have had, had I not taken it as I did. I would not condemn myself, therefore, for what seemed to be a mistake but would include it as part of the working out of the problem.” (p. 429)
In response to the second part of our assignment, I feel immense gratitude to all those who shared in writing their experiences with Mrs. Eddy and the invaluable insights they gained, thus allowing those following in their footsteps to better grasp what commitment to the Cause of Christian Science fully entails. The expanded accounts in this volume provide ample detail about her daily activities, so much so that there were moments I questioned whether “too much information” was being shared (especially from those individuals who were with MBE in the days prior to her passing). Having said this, however, I realize those same individuals continued to obey Mrs. Eddy’s leadership in serving the Cause even after their service in her home ended (working tirelessly as practitioners, teachers, lecturers, readers, members of the Board of Directors, and so on). Obviously, the human picture of Mrs. Eddy passing did not deter them in the least, as not a single one returned to “fishing.”
Did (this book) raise questions about how your own life could change during this crucial time in order to bring your best to serve this Cause? Yes…absolutely!
What can we learn from the sacrifices of the early workers and their obedience to Mrs. Eddy’s leadership? The CS movement benefited greatly for their unwavering dedication and commitment to the field and to Mrs. Eddy.
How does this leadership continue into the second century of CS? It seems to me that even though Mrs. Eddy, as Leader, left (through her extensive writings) all that’s needed to forward the Cause of Christian Science, well into its second century, it remains our duty to stay true to her teachings and demonstrate our understanding of the Science she discovered through healing, as did those who “knew” her in the early years.