We are happy to welcome Deborah Messmer to our staff. Deb received her Christian Science nurses training at Broadview, Inc., in Los Angeles and trained Christian Science nurses. She was also served as Co-Director of Christian Science Nursing there. She worked for Broadview for 9 years until her family moved to the St. Louis area in 2015 where she worked at Peace Haven Association as their full-time mentor in the Christian Science nursing education department. Her family’s desire to return to California prompted their move to Castro Valley in August and she began working here at Fern Lodge as our Assistant Director of Christian Science nursing.
One staff member asked me recently what my hopes are for Christian Science nursing. My hope is that the standard of Christianity, including love, joy, peace, support and encouragement, permeate every spot where Christian Science nursing is in action.
Mary Baker Eddy says, “Christian Science and Christianity are one” (Science and Health 372:17-18). I love that, because it turns me to the examples of Christianity in the Bible. As Christians, we love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind, and we know that we cannot truly love God without loving our brother, our neighbor, co-worker, grocer, mechanic, etc. (I John 4: 20-21). Christ Jesus specified that we are to love everyone.
That can take a lot of work sometimes. At one point in my career, I worked for a company where I was feeling severely judged by others and found myself frustrated with my co-workers. As a Christian Scientist I asked myself, “How can I love them?” After working to muster up a sense of human love for each one and then finding myself frustrated over and over again, I took a new approach.
There are Christian qualities that I grew up learning about in Christian Science like peace, patience, listening, love, joy, and tenderness (and others too!). Some people find these qualities easy to express toward some, but difficult to express toward others. I believe cultivating the qualities that are more difficult for us to express and striving to live them, allows us to love and heal. As I practiced naturally expressing the quality of peace every day, I found my thought was more open to what my co-workers were saying. Expressing patience helped me not react to anything negative going on around me. Love, joy, and tenderness allowed me to be gentle with the people who had previously frustrated me. All of this changed how I approached my relationship with them. What I thought were irreparably broken relationships suddenly began to heal and we were able to find more common ground and worked together better. Some even told me they appreciated my approach to my work.
Mary Baker Eddy talks about the word “learn” and illustrates the way to loving our neighbors. She says in Science and Health, “If we would open their prison doors for the sick, we must first learn to bind up the broken-hearted” (S&H 366:30-31). This implies that we don’t already know how to do it. Often, we think of others as the “sick” and “broken-hearted,” but I realize that it was my own feelings of hurt that made it difficult for me to love. Once I focused on my own thinking and learned how to express peaceable qualities, the situation turned around and my relationships were restored.
When I arrived at Fern Lodge I noticed and was deeply impressed with the harmony the Christian Science nurses, staff members, volunteers, and families express in working to support our patients and each another. I attribute it to the way of Fern Lodge. There is a true sense of Christianity, joy, and love expressed here and everyone associated with Fern Lodge feels it, knows it, and responds to it.