“If there’s one thing that I’m keeping
out of all the things I’ve found
is that the best way to be heard sometimes
is not to make a sound.
And the things we want the most
fetch not a penny nor a pound,
and all it takes to find your feet
is just to stand your ground...”
I came across The Audreys' recording of"Small Things"this morning, and it felt like a tuning fork resonating within the very core of my being. Like the familiar, insistent, gentle...but firm, voice of my divine Parent.
I've been thinking a lot about the word "modesty" this summer...especially in light of Mary Baker Eddy's statements: "The honest student of Christian Science is modest in his claims and conscientious in duty, waiting and working to mature what he has been taught."and "I am persuaded that only by the modesty and distinguishing affection illustrated in Jesus' career, can Christian Scientists aid the establishment of Christ's kingdom on the earth."and "Few people at present know aught of the Science of mental healing; and so many are obtruding upon the public attention their ignorance or false knowledge in the name of Science, that it behooves all clad in the shining mail to keep bright their invincible armor; to keep their demonstrations modest, and their claims and lives steadfast in Truth."This concept of modesty is one that I keep coming back to, over-and-over again.
One of the most subtle taunts of the ego is the invitation to "be great." To have a great career, a great marriage, a great story to tell, a great accomplishment to attach our identities to, or a personal moment of greatness to celebrate as our own...like a thing we can possess and capitalize on. The bigger the better...right? I'm not so sure. In this age of "reality" television, great houses, great wins/losses, great wealth, great tragedies, and great dramas seem to be what it takes to get attention.
But Eddy, in referring to this age-old question, "who shall be greatest?" quotes Shakespeare:
"Great, only as I am good."
When did "being good," stop being "good enough?" The word "God," comes from the word "good." And in fact, in the first Chapter of Genesis, it states that:"God saw all that He had made,
and behold it was very good." If "good," was good enough for God, when did it stop being good enough for us. Why would we ever want to be more than what pleases Him.
This desire to be great, to have greatness, and to spin simple goodness into attention-grabbing greatness, comes with a lot of ego-baggage. It can't exist without an attending sense of hierarchy. To be great, we have to be better than good. We have to be better than something that is "not so great..." or, "just good." We have to have made a bigger difference, seen farther, accomplished more.
Whereas goodness levels the playing field to the basis of:"God saw all that He had made,
and behold it was very good.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished,
and all the host of them."Finished. Done. Complete. Nothing more to be accomplished. And it's good. All good. Impartially, and universally good. Good as All-in-all. And good's only portion...all. No more, no less. Every person perfectly, completely, very good. Every story, healing, demonstration, accomplishment, achievement impartially, equally, immeasurably good. No hierarchy of good. Just good. Modestly good, inherently good, joyfully good...simply good.
I was recently reminded of an experience I had a number of years ago when I was helping to match inspirational speakers, with new venues for introducing Mary Baker Eddy's writings to an ever-expanding audience of readers.
One afternoon, a bookstore liaison called asking if she could schedule a particular speaker for an event at a large store in her own community. She explained that she had heard this speaker on a number of occasions, and that she just loved her message of inspiration and healing. She was especially eager to invite her friends and neighbors to the event, as the talk included a very dramatic, "BIG" healing. It just so happened that the event fit perfectly into the speaker's schedule. The host was thrilled.
On the Monday following the event, I called to see how it went. And I was surprised to discover that she felt pretty lukewarm about the talk. She was disappointed that the speaker had left out the dramatic healing, and had instead shared a "little" healing, of a headache, she'd had on her way to the bookstore that afternoon. I encouraged her to trust that the speaker had been praying for direction about what to share, and that she could be supporting the community's receptivity to the message...however modest.
Later that day the speaker herself called in. Without sharing what the host had shared earlier, I asked about the event at the large bookstore. She was thrilled with how it had all gone. She did, however, share that she'd been struggling with a severe headache all morning and that as she'd prayed for the event, the pain had completely dissipated. She said that she normally shared a "big" healing during this talk, but was led to replace it with the more modest healing of the headache, from that morning. She said that it just felt so "real" and "good" in that moment. And, that she had surprised herself in doing so.
But, even more surprising to her, she explained, was that quite a number of folks had come up to her afterwards and told her how much they appreciated her sharing that verymodest healing.
Later that week a "reader response card" (a postcard that was inserted in the back of each copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures published for bookstore sales) came in to our office from someone who had identified their purchase as connected with that particular talk. I smiled when I read, in the comments section, that he/she had purchased the book because the speaker had shared a healing of a simple headache. And that if it had been something more serious, the purchaser would not have felt that spiritual healing was something he/she could trust enough to try for themselves...but a headache was "doable."
I've never forgotten this. What if the speaker had let the "ego" drive her, inviting her to set aside a simple, good healing as "not enough," for a more notable, memorable, remark-able healing with more of a "wow" factor? It takes a radical act of humility to be simply good. And I can't help but wonder if the ideas in Science and Health would have seemed as approachable, practical, and "doable" to those new readers, had she opted for the "big" story.
Modesty. Simplicity. Goodness.
These qualities of heart...are as sweet and good as a cup of pure, clear, drinkable cold water. And to the thirsty child, it is a life-saving gift.
We have no record of Jesus talking about his own great works. We only have record of what others saw, and were led to bear witness to. In fact, when asked, by John's disciples, if he was "the one," or if they should look for another, he told them to go and "tell" (another Gospel record says, "show") John what things ye have seen.
This modest man, helped to define love for humanity. And Love is, as Eddy alludes in this statement from Science and Healthcharacterized by silence, meekness, and modesty:
"Love, redolent with unselfishness,
bathes all in beauty and light.
The grass beneath
our feet silently exclaims,
"The meek shall inherit the earth."
The modest arbutus
sends her sweet breath to heaven.."
This summer, as I've wandered the riverbanks of the Arkansas, hiked in the foothills and mountains, and spent sun saturated hours in the sage-peppered arroyo of the high desert, I've been letting "all nature" teach me about goodness and it's characteristic modesty.
And I have concluded that I am only just beginning to scratch the surface on what I can learn about Love, from Her lessons in this extraordinary classroom. The ego always wants something more, bigger, better...it always will. But today I am so deeply satisfied, and content, with goodness. And these have been good days. Days full of simple, small kindnesses. It has been more than enough.
Mother Teresa once said:
"There are no great things
to accomplish in this world,
only small things
done with great love.."
When I think of the small things I have witnessed..done with great love...I am profoundly humbled.
The only thing "great" is God. We are blessed in the presence of His goodness.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
“If there’s one thing that I’m keeping