By Sharon Strong
Our annual meeting’s theme caused me to ponder some meanings of the words “rise and walk.” To rise is to move to a higher position; be seen more clearly; achieve success. And walking is moving forward, advancing; pursuing a way of life; continuing in unison. And over the last 12 months, we have clearly seen advancement, success, and unison, in the classroom, where instruction and introduction to skills and ethics take place, and on our patient care floor where actual practice is shepherded and guided by mentors. In her Message for 1901 (1:19–3), Mary Baker Eddy writes:
Truth comes from a deep sincerity that must always characterize heroic hearts; it is the better side of man’s nature developing itself. As Christian Scientists you seek to define God to your own consciousness by feeling and applying the nature and practical possibilities of divine Love: to gain the absolute and supreme certainty that Christianity is now what Christ Jesus taught and demonstrated — health, holiness, immortality.
Defining the nature of God in consciousness; feeling and applying the “practical possibilities of divine Love….” That sounds like a great job description for the Christian Science nurse! It is divine Love that motivates us to embark on a ministry of Christian Science nursing. Students learn more of the nature and practical possibilities of divine Love. And they learn how to apply these in skilful, helpful ways to meet daily needs for personal care, nourishment, mobility, bandaging, comfort, etc. The skills, ethics, and assessments acquired for their Christian Science nursing practice prepare them for endless possibilities and adaptations in this rewarding walk of life!
The “better side of man’s nature developing itself” is a joy to witness in the life of a new Christian Science nurse. The Manual bylaw for this church activity defines the discipline of this development. Students learn how to apply their demonstrable knowledge of Christian Science practice, their practical wisdom, and their ability to give proper care. And they learn the importance of expressing the nursing qualities of cheerfulness, orderliness, punctuality, patience, fullness of faith, and receptivity to Truth and Love, — qualities Mrs. Eddy held dear for all who would be nurses, as pointed out in Science and Health.
Our Ministry of Christian Science Nursing program continues with greater flexibility and utility, reaching beyond our walls to help individuals achieve success in their own localities. We continue to teach classes remotely for several organizations. The most successful training occurs when each organization’s mentor also attends the class. This enables them to know what is being taught so they can support those ideas. They enrich the instruction by sharing from their experiences, and they help their students practice the skills taught.
The 8 classes taught in the last year ranged in size from 1 to 9. The class of 9 had 4 from Fern Lodge and 5 over Zoom — 2 in Florida, 3 in New York. While there were a few moments resembling herding cats when we were practicing our bandages near and far, the benefit of video classes is a blessing for those who cannot travel or leave home to attend a class. The on-job instruction can then be completed in their home facility under the guidance of their mentor who also attended the class.
One unforeseen but wonderful benefit from holding Zoom classes was that 6 individuals who took a class remotely from smaller facilities (and in one case, with no facility at all) later asked if they could come to Fern Lodge for some mentoring! That’s what we refer to as “Expected good from unexpected sources!” These all proved to be mutual blessings, adding skills to each student’s ministry while providing a little grace in scheduling for our nursing floor. Deb Messmer has been our primary mentor, joyfully fulfilling that role in addition to her Assistant Director, and now Director of Christian Science Nursing duties. We are deeply grateful she is continuing this activity, and is able to adjust her schedule to help our students progress.
The last year put a halt for awhile on religious and all worker visas. But the government has begun processing the 500,000 backlogged applications, and is making good progress in resolving bottlenecks and processing these applications more efficiently. Our two potential students are now awaiting appointments for interviews in their countries. And I am so happy we have hired a Christian Scientist to help me file these applications. We have six students needing extensions!
We are so pleased with the quality of our students, their commitment to excellence, and their good-natured flexibility when called upon to do more, and even to do shift work while attending classes. They are such bright lights in our Movement! The future of Christian Science nursing is truly in good hands.