|Subject: The 'balm,' not the bomb|
|The 'balm,' not the bomb|
By Michael Mooslin
From the July 16, 2012 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel
During the decades I have spent running a business in California, I have often prayed for the “deep-settled calm” Sentinel founder Mary Baker Eddy spoke of in her Message to The Mother Church for 1902. Commenting on Jesus’ invitation to the “burdened and weary” to come to him, she said: “O glorious hope! there remaineth a rest for the righteous, a rest in Christ, a peace in Love. The thought of it stills complaint; the heaving surf of life’s troubled sea foams itself away, and underneath is a deep-settled calm” ( p. 19).
How many of us have longed for that calm in the face of life’s simmering challenges! All too often when busy people enter a room, tension, political debate, manipulation, or human will monopolize the room’s energy. It’s as though someone’s brought in a mental bomb primed to explode.
However, most of us know people whose influence has the opposite effect. When they are present, things calm down, everyone relaxes, and a peaceful and cooperative atmosphere is established. It’s as though they carry with them a soothing and comforting balm.
Sad to admit, I have at times belonged to the first camp. In business negotiation or political argument I’ve leaned toward the bomb instead of the balm. My bomb has usually been some predisposition based on a strongly held bias that starts with “I want . . . ,” or “I must have . . . ,” or, maybe the desperate feeling, “If this . . . doesn’t happen, I don’t know what I’ll do!” And then there’s the need to win an argument, get my way in a business deal, or achieve quick satisfaction when I buy something I believe I must have.
At such times, I’ve rationalized my behavior by finding the perfect metaphysical argument that corresponded with my humanly willed position. Such logic has masqueraded as prayer until I came to the realization that I was missing the mark completely. Instead of starting with human details and trying to apply spiritual truisms to them, I should be removing self-centered, self-indulgent, self-pitying, or self-conscious thinking and adopting a selfless willingness to listen for inspiration from God.
In Christian Science, such listening is viewed as a form of prayer, especially when strengthened by Christ Jesus’ approach: “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” ( Matthew 6:6).
Mary Baker Eddy explains how she views this “closet” in a chapter titled “Prayer” in her book Science and Health. She explains on pages 14 and 15 that it’s a mental sanctuary where human sense is left outside and spiritually loving and truthful arguments flood our consciousness. It’s a place where we can have a quiet audience alone with God by closing our lips and removing all sense of human will. The answer might be very different from what our human approach has led us to expect, but I’ve consistently found that obedient listening for God’s messages brings quick and lasting solutions. Divine power, not human force, takes over, and we find “shade from the heat of the sun and a place of shelter and protection from storms and rain” (Isaiah 4:6, Contemporary English Version).
The benefits of this approach were borne out during one of the annual meetings we hold for my company’s business associates and licensees. The morning of our meeting I awoke in my hotel room feeling seriously ill. My head was spinning, and my limbs were so weak that I doubted I would even be able to get out of bed.
However, I followed my daily routine of reading that week’s Bible Lesson published in the Christian Science Quarterly. It included some reassuring thoughts about God’s healing power, and the fact that God was the true and only source of my strength. Half an hour later, growing in confidence that I’d be able to fulfill my duties that day, I got up, showered, and made my way to the meeting.
Obedient listening for God’s messages brings quick and lasting solutions.
That year things weren’t going smoothly with some of our licensees. There was a lot of agitation and complaint. I was especially concerned about several individuals who were becoming increasingly adversarial, and my physical weakness only added to the stress. Just before the meeting, my condition worsened, and I had no choice but to sit down in a corner by myself and pray. I needed to gain spiritual dominion by turning humbly and completely to God. With just a few minutes to go before we launched that day’s agenda, I knew I had to find peace in my relationship with the individuals who were stirring things up.
One of our vendors, who was present at the meeting, is, like me, a Christian Scientist, and sensing my discomfort, came over to where I was sitting. I immediately felt the “balm” of his loving support, and was wonderfully strengthened. For a few moments we prayed silently, each in our own way. I stepped into a “closet” in which I reasoned quietly with myself: “God is my life, my strength, and my health. All of us in this room are sons and daughters of God, whose prime commitment is to express divine qualities in everything we do, inside and outside the office. Nothing—not even illness—can undermine the harmony of our relationship with God and with one another.”
After a few minutes I was able to assure my friend that I felt physically free, emotionally calm, and totally in control. I thanked him, and we brought people together to start the meeting. My healing was complete, with the added benefit that there were no further complaints from attendees. For the next eight hours, harmony reigned. We had seldom enjoyed a more successful annual meeting.
I realized that my refusal to humanly argue over my physical condition, surrender to stress, or just “tough it out,” allowed me that morning to open my heart completely to God for the inspiration necessary to have a positive meeting and feel my health restored. I had entered the “closet,” and felt the “balm.”
My experience is perfectly encapsulated in Hymn No. 49 in the Christian Science Hymnal in which John Greenleaf Whittier calls upon the “Lord and Father of us all” to:
Breathe through the pulses of desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
O still small voice of calm.
Since then, I have continued to learn many lessons about my own conduct in business meetings and how to deal better with licensees and customers. It’s become clear to me that God is all-inclusive, and that when I don’t react to outside attacks on my spiritual peace, whether in my body or my business, I can witness supply and productivity, all controlled and blessed by my Father-Mother God. The result is a business characterized by health, honesty, dignity, warm-heartedness, and abundance.