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"A covert from storm and from rain"
BERNICE W. CARTER


         It often happens that in taking up a new proposition in mathematics a student working faithfully to master and apply the rules laid down will find himself able to obtain the correct answer to the problems long before he really understands the basic law which the rules illustrate. He does his work mechanically, we may say, and seemingly expresses little real reasoning power; but there comes a day when, having, by strict adherence to rule, solved so many of his problems correctly, he suddenly, as if by revelation, finds the reason back of the rules, and so grasps the truth.

         The analogy to this is found in the everyday life of the student of Christian Science. Convinced of the truth of the teaching — possibly through having witnessed seeming miracles as a result of it, through hearing testimonies of healing, or through reading the Christian Science literature, especially Mrs. Eddy's writings, or, as most frequently happens, through having been healed himself — he undertakes the real study of the textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." If honest with himself, he will apply what he learns as he learns it, and the immediate results will be to him like the golden glow of early morning, so colorful and soul-stirring as to remain in memory even after the sun has fully risen and perhaps been overcast with clouds.

         One student recalls an experience which, although it occurred only a few months after she began the study of Christian Science, stands out even today as a milestone, a beacon — something to which she can revert in memory at any time and draw from it new lessons and fresh inspiration. From the very beginning of her study she realized that if Christian Science was to be anything at all to her it must be everything. If she was to give up her former concept of God, — which though limited and vague was still inexplicably near and dear to her, — it must be for a God who was indeed all-powerful, and available at all times and under all circumstances. She found in Science and Health the simplest of rules: "Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously" (p. 392); and, "When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea" (p. 495). These she began to apply as best she could, taking a radical stand at each well-defined step of the way.

         It happened that the equinoctial storms were exceptionally severe that year. The Biblical description, "The rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house," aptly pictures the weather conditions around the student's home. Moreover, a built-on portion of the house was not weatherproof; the rain, wind-driven, penetrated the joining and poured into the pantry in small torrents at so many different places that every available pail, pan, jardiniere, and deep cooking utensil was pressed into service. The student was alone in the house and there was nothing she could do materially except to empty the vessels as rapidly as possible and mop up the floor betweenwhiles. In the old days she would have prayed to God to send someone to help her. Now she suddenly seemed bereft of her heavenly Father. How could one ask Principle to stop a leak? But as she worked, statements from the textbook kept recurring to her; the ninety-first psalm, also, fairly sang itself to the patter of the rain: "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty . . . He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust."

         Gradually her depression began to lift; gradually, too, she began to experience a sense of protection. For, she reasoned, she had been conscientiously applying the rules of the Christ-teaching, — correcting every thought as soon as she became aware of drifting into wrong thinking; she had always loved purity, even before she recognized it as an attribute of God, and she had been living as close to God as her degree of understanding would allow; she had no other longing except to know Him — and her supreme desire might have been expressed in the psalmist's words: "Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." Why then could she not claim the shelter of ever present Love, and hide in the secret place even from the rain? Other Bible verses came like angel visitants to urge her to make the test. "Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord;" "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." Entertaining these angels she caught a glimpse of heavenly reality and the wonderful harmony of God's creation. It was only a glimpse; but it carried her away out of self — out of the dismal house, into the consciousness of life in God. When she again began the emptying of pails and the mopping, there had come a lull in the storm outside. Almost no rain came in upon the floor while she was emptying the vessels. "Now," said her awakened spiritual sense, "if you are honest, if you really believe all you have been thinking, why are you putting the pails back there to catch more rain?" Then so-called common sense put in a plea, for the clouds were as black as ever and the rain had by no means ceased. But "Prove me now, herewith," urged the still, small voice.

         She carefully dried each vessel and put it away in its usual place, and as carefully dried the floor, removing the rolls of cloth and matting which she had used to prevent the water from getting through under the doors to the adjoining rooms. Then she went upstairs to other duties. All this was done, not with the grim determination of faith expressed in the words of Job, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him," but in a manner that showed how completely she had put the problem away from her. She had done her part. It was a perfectly natural sequence that God would take care of the rest. The stormy weather continued not only all that day but for many days, yet not once again did the rain leak through into the house. "The wind changed," said the skeptic to whom her joy-laden heart poured out the story, "or the shingles of the roof had become swollen and made the joining tight." Yes, the student admitted, the wind did change, and stayed changed; and perhaps the shingles did swell. She was not concerned with the material manifestation. She only knew that she had been lifted out of dreary discord into harmony, into that "place of refuge" which Isaiah describes as "a covert from storm and from rain" — where there were no beating winds, only freshness of spirit; no cloud-bursts or floods, only showers of blessing. She had proved that however slight her understanding of infinite Principle, by obedience and trust she could find the way to God.

         Love for God surged through her consciousness, and gratitude to that brave heart, that sturdy pioneer, Mrs. Eddy, who, alone and with no help save the Bible, had discovered the rule and made the way so plain that "the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein."

 

"A covert from storm and from rain" by Bernice W. Carter
Christian Science Sentinel, August 3, 1918
 

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