I really love the topic letter – and the topic. It’s special for the Association to be working with the church as a whole.
The assignment letter asks: “Did (reading the book) raise questions about how your own life could change during this crucial time in order to bring your best to serve the Cause?”
After some years in the practice I have felt both a need and a reluctance to go forward instead of just continuing in the same way. Just being busy in the practice doesn’t seem to be good enough. It occurs to me that just having a lot of calls isn’t necessarily practicing the way Mrs. Eddy expected.
Of course, my sense of being “busy” is given perspective when I read about Clara Shannon and Calvin Frye alternating the “watch” responsibility every two hours, day and night for months (WKMBE Vol. II, p. 197). Or George Kinter being told that when he joined the household at Pleasant View he wouldn’t have time for helping anyone else, even his immediate family, or wouldn’t have time for chores (like buying necessary clothes) (p. 363). Or there’s the rebuke given to a household member who was picking flowers when called by Mrs. Eddy (p. 468). Or Adelaide Still staying with Mrs. Eddy all day every day. Or Calvin Frye bundled in blankets between 4:00 and 6:00 o’clock on winter mornings taking dictation for Unity of Good (p. 470).
This level of dedication and self-sacrifice is humbling. But just spending more time isn’t the whole issue. Even more revealing to me than the dedication of time is hearing Mrs. Eddy’s rebuke when household workers seemed dull. (I think of Jesus saying that the people’s “hearts are waxed gross” (Matt. 13) or “… perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? (Mark 8). Or Mrs. Eddy’s writing about “dreamy absentness” or “mental penury” or “spiritual barrenness” or “artless listeners.”)
Adelaide Still writes: “…if (Mrs. Eddy) saw that error was handling us, she could ‘thunder His law to the sinner, and sharply lighten on the cloud of the intoxicated senses’ (Mis p. 277). She would tell me sometimes, ‘You are dead and buried and plucked up by the roots this morning’ (Jude 1:12)” (p. 485). Then there’s the passage you mentioned in the assignment letter, Mrs. Eddy saying “Have you no God?” that Joseph Mann said was for “arousing us out of a self-mesmeric barrenness resulting from a very liberal use of the letter quite devoid of the quickening Spirit…” Or there is this record by Adam Dickey: “You don’t any of you realize what is going on. This is a dark hour for the Cause, and you do not seem to be awake to it” (p. 411).
This was serious – being alert was hard work in her household. There’s a hint of this in her explanation to George Kinter about why she didn’t also bring his wife and child (Grace) to Pleasant View: “…this house is no place for a little girl. There is too much that is like solemnity for a child, who needs the bright things of life. True, Grace would be at school all day, but, you see, our evenings are oft our busiest times” (p. 362).
Given this I’m struck by how Mrs. Eddy was so full of light. When someone asked her if she was demonstrating over death she said that she was learning about Life. And once she gave these beautiful instructions to the “watchers:” “All is love, peace, harmony, / Heaven is right here, / Truth reigns, / There is no strife. / Peace be still! / Truth has destroyed the error, / Love has destroyed all hate, / All is peace, love, joy” (p. 317). She said at another time, “Do not work against error, but feel the Love that dissolves it.” And it’s very telling how many of the workers say that serving in Mrs. Eddy’s household was a highlight in their lives.
I want to grow in this way – to be more alive, awake, aware, ready. I think that serving the Cause done the way Mrs. Eddy saw it and taught her household workers, would be the highlight of my life too.