from the Fern Lodge Prayer Committee
“When I came here, I told them I did not come here to die—I came here to heal! When I arrived I was barely aware of my surroundings and needed to be lifted from the bed to a chair. My first major step of progress was to be able to move myself around the facility on my own in a wheelchair. Now I am able to stand and walk with the assistance of a walker. I am grateful for this progress, and for some hard lessons along the way.”
The foregoing testimony was given at one of the first Patient Prayer Committee meetings in Spring. These meetings provide a mutually supportive forum for patients to share and encourage each other in their mental work and to companion with each other in their unique role in the Christian Science movement, recognizing their stay in a care facility as an opportunity to support healing through prayer alone—for themselves, for each other, for Fern Lodge, for Church, for mankind.
I have heard it said in regard to organizations that face a turning point: “You grow or you go.” Just such an imperative of progress impelled this individual’s growth in grace that has since blessed others. Desiring to know how she and other patients could contribute to the planning for the 50th anniversary celebration of Fern Lodge that was held in May, our Administrator, George Strong, suggested that she lead a prayer committee to support the event. Clearly of value to patients, the weekly meetings have continued now for over three months after the anniversary celebration, with the general motive of supporting one another’s prayerful work. Begun with brief readings followed by discussion, the meeting topics have included what all are grateful for, how each one prays, how and why each one loves God, how to share the gospel with the world, the spiritual reality of home, and how all are praying for Fern Lodge in general.
Each meeting is geared to support each individual’s demonstration, to find each other where we are, to behold the perfect man and to love God by trusting and seeking to behold His reign of harmony. A lesson I began to learn early on in Christian Science nursing was the value of perceiving the current proportion of one’s believed ability and to “meet in the middle”—wherever that point happens to be at the moment. One does not water a budding tomato plant with a showering blast from a hose as would be appropriate for a mature plant, nor does one sprinkle or mist a mature plant or tree where a good soaking is due. I continue to find (though not always easily!) that a patient and humble attitude reveals just what is needed at the moment, which is always and ultimately watching God do His own work and is an effortless joy.
This was perhaps most clearly demonstrated to me while helping an uncommunicative patient with breakfast. I caught the rhythm and level of her participation where there appeared to be none, and she opened and closed her mouth for every bite. Although this was a singular occasion, such a revelation of harmony, rightly valuated, indicates the entire glory of perfect, spiritual being whereof we may now but “see through a glass darkly”1 as “the blossom shines through the bud.”2
In his healing practice, Christ Jesus often referred to the faith of those he helped, suggesting that his loving and just recognition of their wholeness drew out that wholeness. He said to the woman with an issue of blood, a man whom he healed of blindness and another of leprosy, “thy faith hath made thee whole.”3 He saw the perfect man by recognizing their spirituality, and we can, and we do, too.
There have been many such evidences of the perfect man in these meetings where there have been claims of the opposite—blooms where there have been beliefs of blight, and with our practice of divine Science we can appreciate what Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health, that “a little understanding of Christian Science proves the truth of all [she says] of it.”4 On the way to the meeting one morning, a patient whom I had never before heard speak with the recognition of her present surroundings announced that she was helping everyone get to the group as we walked in the halls to the living room together. She has since proceeded to speak in the meeting of the pure, spiritual truths of God, articulately elaborating upon the spiritual purpose of the group and again demonstrating awareness of her surroundings.
The founder of the group asked that we set up participants in a circle, which we have done, to encourage a sense of belonging. This embrace of a sense of home has nurtured a faithful affection between members evident in hand-holding and hellos, most notably between patients who have struggled to accept their whereabouts and invest in getting to know their neighbors, struggling with a strong desire to return to their families.
Patients who rarely speak have been heard from in these meetings, and on thoughtful topics. One patient who has been known to repeat just one or two phrases has begun to develop her thought in meetings, reasoning spiritually beyond what have appeared to be former limitations. Outside of the meeting I saw her effectively comfort another patient who was distressed, demonstrating the same presence and initiative of thought I first observed from her in the meeting. This patient first branched out from her usual refrains to share during meetings focused on the topic of gratitude: “gratitude is riches, complaint is poverty.”5 Recently, at a meeting focused on prayer for Fern Lodge, she elaborated to say that she prays to know there is nothing to complain about at Fern Lodge, citing also that happiness is spiritual.
Our well-being is not dependent upon material circumstance or personal relationships but is anchored in our relationship with our ever-present and eternally good God. Her comments struck a happy and hopeful chord with everyone, realizing by their embrace of present inspiration the prophetic title of the group as it originally appeared on the daily schedule: “Bloom Where You are Planted.”
Christian Science Nurse
- 1 Corinthians 13:12
- Science and Health 518:21
- Matthew 9:22, Mark 10:52, Luke 17:19
- Science and Health 329:6
- Christian Science Hymnal 249:2