Healing Grief and Trauma
October 21, 2004
"The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares."
— Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy
"This meeting continues with last week's topic."
"You were at that meeting? Can you tell us what came up?"
"The member who suggested the topic described how Science was helping her overcome grief and trauma associated with 9/11."
"That's a tough one. How's she doing it?"
"It's a process but so far she's experienced some powerful spiritual insights into the all-goodness of God."
"I hope she makes it to the meeting — I want to hear more."
"Another member described addressing with Science age beliefs and feelings of helplessness. Things came to a head when he was placed in a nursing home and heavily drugged. He prayed for clarity and release. Eventually he was able to call his lawyer who got him out of there."
"Did you talk about your own experience?"
"Sure. I carefully recounted the steps taken by me and others to move me off living on the streets and into proper housing. You haven't heard this yet, but I now have a job. I can't tell you how much my participation in Gay spiritual groups including this one has helped. I've read much of Science and Health and spent a lot of time in reading rooms here and in Brooklyn."
"When you think of something like 9/11 or your experience on the streets it seems almost impossible to get beyond feelings of grief and trauma. But any of us if we're living ourselves as mortals is at risk for equally terrible events, if not worse."
"Don't we all have sad memories that haunt us and keep us stuck in mortality?"
"Yeah, we all have our crosses to bear, but I hear immense recovery in the testimonies from last week."
"I agree. I was thinking about the phrase 'moving on': we need to move on from our traumas and griefs, but we also have to be careful not to just forget the whole thing and suppress memories. These need specific healing in Science."
"Could you give us an example?"
"Well, I'll just talk about myself. I had a miserable childhood. There was alcoholism, mental illness and homophobia. There's every reason to collapse into autism. Should I forget it all and get on with my life? I'd think the healing way would be to pray for an understanding of my present spiritual source and condition, annulling the claims of mortal material process."
"There are many useful techniques. I like to trace the origin of words for healing messages. As I said two weeks ago, grief is related to guru while trauma comes from roots translating 'to thrash or thresh'. These word meanings suggested to me angels entertained unawares and that led me to study Science and Health pages 66 and 574 (see Readings and introductory statement, above)."
"I entertained an angel unawares a few days ago with my Christian Science teacher. Because of my new job I decided I couldn't attend my Association meeting in Los Angeles. My teacher called me a few days later and rebuked me soundly for my dereliction. She said I could have called her about the situation and we'd have worked on it through prayer. I felt awful but she moved us along to healing by helping me to see that students of Christian Science should always question seemingly logical material thinking and opt for the highest spiritual concept."
"What a beautiful lesson! As one who often goes along with the material flow, boy did I need to hear that!"
"When we were on our way back from Providence on the train, a man came over to us and started screaming that we were talking too loud and bothering him. He looked like he was going to get physical and yelled, 'You're really pissing me off!'"
"What did you do?"
"I just looked at him and through him to the real man."
"I was a bit slower, fumbling around until his pissed off business reminded me of the passage in our Bible Lesson about Jesus giving the Samaritan woman living water (John 4:14). That carried me to the absolute and I was peaceful."
"Everything turned out okay?"
"Yes. He returned to his seat but I noticed everyone in the car, including myself, shut down and hardly made a noise for the rest of the trip. I saw my own reaction as a recapitulation of my childhood trauma, living with angry parents. Perhaps the others had similar backgrounds."
"That seems unlikely but doesn't almost everyone want to avoid violence?"
"Anyway, the whole thing showed the need for work to dispel traumatic memories as well as predictions."
"Tell us about the Emergence conference."
"Well, first of all it looks like Emergence is back from the ashes. It's financially sound, has a proper board and is getting up to date on its corporate filing requirements in California."
"Did Kathleen Clementson speak?"
"Yes, she certainly did — the first day. She was our keynote speaker and her topic was Commitment to Love. She's come through the trauma and grief of departure from The Mother Church with love and good spirits by concentrating on helping others through her practice. We split up into small groups and discussed things like our identity, spiritually and humanly, scientific forgiveness and how to attract friendship and companionship."
"In one of the groups a woman told us that one day she was preparing her suicide when the doorbell rang. When she opened the door, there was a homeless girl needing help. She spent the rest of the day getting the girl hooked up with various social services. All thought of suicide faded and she saw the value of thinking about the needs of others — a prime motivation in 12-step recovery programs and in the practice of Christian Science."
"After Kathleen's talk and the workshops we were treated to a filmed documentary of the marriage of Kathleen and Suzanne in Massachusetts."
"Next we heard about a play being written to contrast the metaphysics of Mrs. Eddy with the psychology of her day."
"Then Bruce Stores told us about his new book called, Christian Science: Its Encounter With Lesbian/Gay America. It outlines the history of early workers in the Lesbian and Gay Christian Science movement, the groups they organized in various cities and then nationally, together with the reactions of The Mother Church — not only to its Gay members but to unfolding Gay acceptance into society at large."
"On Saturday most of the group went up to Boston. We were greeted by a representative of The Mother Church and taken on a tour of the buildings. We had time to ask questions about the church's stance on homosexuality."
"Well, as I sat there under the dome of the Extension I couldn't help thinking back to the mid 70's and our interview with Naomi Price about her editorial in a November 1972 Sentinel on homosexuality and the Bible. She said coldly as we tried to introduce ourselves, 'I know who you are.' Here we were now, 'out' Lesbians and Gay men: they knew who we were and they were warmly welcoming us!"
"I thought of handing out the pamphlet Gay People In Christian Science? at Annual Meeting in 1980. We did our work down by the fountain near the Administration building."
"Don't forget 1982 — we stood just a few feet from where we were now seated, in silent protest during the postlude to object to the firing of Chris Madsen from the Monitor."
"What questions were you able to ask?"
"We already knew that LGBT folk can become members of the church and have class instruction. One of the group asked whether we could be 'out' practitioners and teachers. The representative pointed out that Kathleen's experience had established the precedent for that. She was not put on probation for being an 'out' Lesbian. Apparently it was the result of ham-fisted moves by the Board trying to limit the publicity around her marriage."
"We're still barred from one area — sharing our experiences as Gay people with others through the pages of the Christian Science periodicals. But there may be an opening to share our stories and testimonies through Spirituality.com"
"How did you find that out?"
"We toured the new Mary Baker Eddy Library after we met with the administration representative and again were warmly welcomed. We then had lunch with the manager of Spirituality.com who'd like to at least see some of our material."
"When I got back to New York I followed up with the Publishing Society and was told that homosexuality is uppermost in their thought. 'It's our number one topic at The Mother Church,' is a direct quote."
"A friend said to me, 'Be your own Mother Church.' Mrs. Eddy often referred to 'my church' — so I should be having and living my own infinite structure of Truth and Love, just as she did."
"I got up at my branch church yesterday and related everything I could think of about our interaction with The Mother Church, including where we stand with the periodicals. I figure Wednesday testimonies are the present means of communication; so I'd better use them. Of course I placed my remarks on a firm spiritual basis and referred to the readings from the desk which included the story of Joseph."
"We're getting near the close. Is there anything else?"
"Oh yes. We heard from Emergence members of two new Christian Science Societies they've been part of organizing to leave behind stuffy homophobic branch churches. The new Societies are experimenting with formats designed to meet newcomers where they're at. One Society sold a large number of Science and Healths at a mall."
"We have to close now. Does anyone have a suggestion for next week's topic?"
"I'd like to work and pray about the upcoming elections."
"We could spend two weeks on that to take us through the actual date, but let's try to get some notes up after both meetings."
"Okay everybody: Elections?"
"Yes, that's fine. But make it singular."
"Election — for two weeks!"
Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy
Thou art right, immortal Shakespeare, great poet of humanity:
Sweet are the uses of adversity;
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.
Trials teach mortals not to lean on a material staff,—a broken reed, which pierces the heart. We do not half remember this in the sunshine of joy and prosperity. Sorrow is salutary. Through great tribulation we enter the kingdom. Trials are proofs of God's care. Spiritual development germinates not from seed sown in the soil of material hopes, but when these decay, Love propagates anew the higher joys of Spirit, which have no taint of earth. Each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love.
Changes in belief may go on indefinitely, but they are the merchandise of human thought and not the outgrowth of divine Science.
Love for God and man is the true incentive in both healing and teaching. Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way. Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action. Love is priestess at the altar of Truth. Wait patiently for divine Love to move upon the waters of mortal mind, and form the perfect concept. Patience must "have her perfect work."