When you arrive at Fern Lodge, you feel a sense of peace that characterizes the healing activity of the Christ. This peaceful feeling is the result of the diligent work of the Fern Lodge staff. Each staff member strives to contribute to our healing ministry. In the We Knew Mary Baker Eddy series, John Lathrop attributes to Mary Baker Eddy these words of encouragement, which we take to heart: “Never become discouraged, dear ones. This work is not hum-drum, it is growth. It is repeating and defeating, repeating and defeating, repeating and defeating” (First Series, p. 14 or Full Edition, p. 113). The result of this work is Christian Science healing.
When individuals come to Fern Lodge for healing, we give them the third degree! ☺ I’m referring to Mrs. Eddy’s scientific translation of mortal mind found on page 115 & 116 of Science and Health. At times it can seem like a Christian Science nurse is fully engaged in the second degree, practicing the moral qualities of “Humanity, honesty, affection, compassion, hope, faith, meekness, temperance.” And that seems good and unselfish, —nurses should express those qualities, shouldn’t they?
We might be tempted to believe that we apply those qualities to overcome the first degree—the depravity of matter or the physical realm—to “Evil beliefs, passions and appetites, fear, depraved will, self-justification, pride, envy, deceit, hatred, revenge, sin, sickness, disease, death.” If not alert, the Christian Science nurse might get caught up with the physical aspects of care—the tending of the body—seeking only the compassion, hope faith, meekness, etc. of the second degree. We could lose the deep healing significance of Christian Science nursing if we leave our practice there, as benevolent as that seems.
But the fact is, we are not “second degree” nurses helping patients with their “first degree” problems. Instead, we need to identify our nursing practice as founded in the “third degree” which Mrs. Eddy defines as “understanding.” This degree is spiritual, and involves “Wisdom, purity, spiritual understanding, spiritual power, love, health, holiness.” She continues, “In the third degree mortal mind disappears, and man as God’s image appears.” It’s so important that we begin with the scientific translation of immortal Mind, —God— and constantly see man as God’s individual, spiritual, perfect, eternal idea, held securely in Mind. Then no matter what the physical or mental picture, we can acknowledge that our patients are eternally safe and cared for by Father-Mother God. And as we do this, we find we are working in the third degree, and seeing more healing and wholeness.
Mrs. Eddy once said to her household: “Our work is not to change God’s work, for that is finished and perfect. Neither is it to make error nothing, for it is that already; but to stand (apparently) in the midst of it, unmoved, knowing its nothingness.”
This last year we saw many evidences of grace manifested in the lives of patients and staff. Noticeable freedom was gained and progress made by those whose healings seem to be protracted. We watched as fear and discouragement were conquered and limitation was overcome in many ways.
A patient arrived unable to walk and experiencing pain and weakness on one side. At odd moments she would just cry. Through her prayerful study to learn more about God, and the daily support of a Christian Science practitioner, in a few months, she was walking unassisted and left to live in an apartment. She wept when she left, only this time tears of joy for the wonderful healing. She told me that she never realized before this experience what it meant to be “working” in Christian Science.
Another patient came to us after a fall. Skilled handling and great alertness were required of the nurses, as they witnessed her innate perfection. After 10 weeks of study, prayer, and progress she went home, using only a cane for balance. She said, “The nurses were very accommodating to my unique needs. The total response of everybody—the gardener, cooks, staff—was darling: they all were so loving and caring!” This experience reassured her husband, who was not a Christian Scientist, and who had wanted her to receive medical care.
On hearing that patient’s news about going home, another patient said, “I’m going home too!” And two weeks later she did. She told me that before this experience, she didn’t really know what Christian Science nurses “did,” and now she was in awe of all the love, encouragement, and excellent care we provided in support of her healing. “I never knew you did all of this, and so joyously,” she said. Since she’s been home, she has cooked dinner every night, and does her own laundry and housekeeping.
As I reflected recently on the healing mission of Fern Lodge, the words of Mrs. Eddy’s “Communion Hymn” came in the form of an acknowledgement, as this paraphrase: “Yes, we have seen the Savior! Yes, we have heard the glad sound! Yes, we have felt the power of the Word! The Truth has made us free, and Love has wiped away our tears. Spirit has cleansed the foul senses, has made us pure, has cured all our sorrow, sickness, and sin. Yes, Life is the Strongest deliverer, and the recognition of the ever-present Christ has made us whole.”
Thank you so much for your support of Christian Science nursing. Wherever in the world it is practiced, we all share one common purpose: Christian Science healing.
Director of Christian Science Nursing