Anyone who had the opportunity to attend the Annual Meeting of The Mother Church, or to watch it broadcast over the Internet, heard a message from the Nursing Manager that brought me a deep sense of joy and gratitude. We heard Christian Science nursing described in simple terms that showed it as the practice of Christian Science, an activity that is a healing presence for patients. I have been a Christian Science nurse since 1975, and that message stood our to me as the clearest public statement I have heard of the role of Christian Science nurses in the healing mission of The Mother Church.
When I began to learn Christian Science nursing in the training program that was then required, I came away with the belief that being a nurse meant being primarily concerned with certain skills, products and techniques that could be used to bring comfort to a patient. I often heard the statement, “a Christian Science practitioner takes care of the spiritual needs of a patient, and a Christian Science nurse takes care of the patient’s physical needs, carefully avoiding praying for the patient.”
This view of Christian Science nursing gives the impression that it is merely non-medical, physical care, and so the Christian Science nurse is much like a medical nurse who doesn’t give medicine. And this view of Christian Science nursing never felt right to me. As a Christian Scientist, I couldn’t accept the statement that a patient is a physical person with physical nursing needs. Nor could I believe that he is a spiritual individual with physical nursing needs.
Through prayer I realized that I needed to repent–completely change the way I had been thinking about myself as a nurse and my role when working with patients. It dawned on me while reading Matthew 25 that Christian Science nursing is not a physical activity, it is divine Love expressed in Christian obedience to Jesus’ command to “love one another.” Christian Science nursing has more in common with the metaphysical treatment given by a Christian Science practitioner than it has with any form of medical or material nursing. Christian Science nursing starts from the standpoint of man as the image and likeness of God, Spirit, and stays there with the conviction of man’s inherent health.
Yes, if a patient appears to need physical comfort and care, a Christian Science nurse’s prayer and work will be seen to provide them, but this activity just fulfills Christ Jesus’ promise, “set your minds on God’s kingdom and his justice before everything else, and all the rest will come to you as well” (New English Bible, Matt 6:33). A Christian Science nurse does nor give specific treatment for a patient, but the nurse does pray specifically and consistently for his or her concept of each patient. And a Christian Science nurse can expect that the right idea of another, held clearly and firmly in consciousness, will heal. Mary Baker Eddy writes of spontaneous healing, and I feel that in her assurance of the power of Love she endorses this mode of healing as a standard for Christian Scientists.The Christian Scientist loves man more because he loves God most. He understands this Principle, — Love. Who is sufficient for these things? Who remembers that patience, forgiveness, abiding faith, and affection, are the symptoms by which our Father indicates the different stages of man’s recovery from sin and his entrance into Science? Who knows how the feeble lips are made eloquent, how hearts are inspired, how healing becomes spontaneous, and how the divine Mind is understood and demonstrated? He alone knows these wonders who is departing from the thraldom of the senses and accepting spiritual truth, — that which blesses its adoption by the refinement of joy and the dismissal of sorrow. — Miscellaneous Writings 100:26
I rejoice in the growing understanding and demonstration of the fact that spontaneous healing can and will accompany the care given by Christian Science nurses.