Sustainability and Christian Science Nursing
As Christian Scientists we acknowledge God as the “sustaining infinite” (S&H vii: 1). We also acknowledge “sustainability” whenever we say the Lord’s Prayer with its spiritual interpretation, recognizing that God, Spirit, is meeting and will continue to meet man’s needs. In doing so we conclude that man as God’s image and likeness expresses all the spiritual qualities of Life.
The concern over sustainability, or how humankind can prosper now and continue to prosper in the future, is today the focus of many communications, from socially driven environmental newsletters to business driven executive-education seminars. Even groups with historically opposing interests are coming together to resist the earthly picture of limited resources, demonstrating a breakthrough in world thought, going beyond material sustenance to spiritual flourishing.
The world’s traditional notion of social sacrifice in order to achieve sustainability is shifting to encounters of full-spectrum flourishing, where organizations and individuals employ mindful management practices, which includes fostering the spiritual well-being of all those involved in organizations, from staff to CEO to customer and field member, driving bold thinking, creative problem solving, and profitability for the benefit of all.
Dr. David Cooperrider, professor of social entrepreneurship at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management, who believes “there’s a profit in peace,” developed “Appreciative Inquiry,” a process for discerning the good and true and bringing those qualities into our experience using a set of tools and research to elevate thought by connecting individuals and corporations to the self, others, and the world.
Scientist and business leader Ratanjat Sondhe, advocate for “oneness thinking” and the belief that it positions businesses and the individuals they touch for success, has said: “Values transformation can fuel great business.” Dr. Cooperrider, in recognizing Tesla Motors’ vision and innovative spirit, believes this automaker with its battery Giga factory is “positioning itself to compete in one of the biggest and most lucrative industries on the planet: the utilities and power generation industry,” going beyond electronic vehicle production.
At a talk he gave at CWRU in May 2014, Dr. Cooperrider’s colleague Dr. Chris Laszlo, shared in reference to Tesla: “Companies that are doing ‘good’ are prospering.” Dr. Laszlo talked about the importance of not only listening to what the customer wants, but the necessity for business leaders to listen to all levels of corporate personnel, remarking that: “People who feel a greater sense of self, others, and the world will care for future generations.”
The desire to reverse the physical picture put forth by scientific evidence, showing us depleted energy sources and limited resources, is one factor propelling this new method. The other is a concept of health or completeness for both the individual and society that goes beyond sustainability to flourishing as the goal.
What a wonderful gift we have in Christian Science, which reveals who we are and our relationship to the one Mind encompassing all of humankind. Christian Science is continuing to leaven world thought.
Through prayer we support and guide the world effort toward Christ healing. Mrs. Eddy instructs: “The facts of divine Science should be admitted, — although the evidence as to these facts is not supported by evil, by matter, or by material sense, — because the evidence that God and man coexist is fully sustained by spiritual sense. Man is, and forever has been, God’s reflection. God is infinite, therefore ever present, and there is no other power or presence. Hence the spirituality of the universe is the only factor of creation.” (S&H 471: 13-20) She also instructs: “At all times and under all circumstances overcome evil with good. Know thyself, and God will supply the wisdom and occasion for victory over evil.” (S&H 571: 16-18)
In his February 2008 Journal article entitled “Soular Power” Jeffrey Hildner calls the view of the Good and True “Soul Sight,” seeing man as God’s idea. The article includes an interview with Tony Lobl, CS, who comments: “Seeing Soul as God liberates me to see all humankind sharing a unified Soul.” Mr. Lobl goes on to say: “If my vision of others is not of their unique and individual beauty as vital spiritual creations of the perfect Source, then I am misjudging them, mis-observing them. I can look deep into the heart of perfect Soul to readjust my view and change my inner perspective, and by doing so I expect to see a change in what I experience.”
I found the Association of Organizations for Christian Science Nursing (AOCSN) is no stranger to the topic of sustainability as I listened to its Sustainability Committee’s report at the AOCSN Annual Conference in Sacramento this past May. (This year Upward Wing became a member of AOCSN. Overlook House had been an established member prior to the closing of its facility and its formation of Upward Wing.) The purpose of the various AOCSN committees is to support member organizations by providing research and information to assist and guide them in their decision making.
As Christian Science nursing organizations are addressing issues of sustainability concerning their facilities and services, they are seeing the relationship of Christian Science nursing to the Christian Science ministry and that it is sustained as a God supported idea, and likewise revealing Christian Science nursing’s support of the practice of Christian Science.
At the 2009 AOCSN conference Chris Irby William’s keynote address discussed how Christian Science nursing is the proof or demonstration of sustainability. She described the children of Israel’s journey from Egypt as going from “a place of captivity where it looked as if they would perish to a promised land of sustainable demonstration.” She also pointed out Mrs. Eddy’s description of “wilderness” as a “vestibule” where change occurs (S&H 597:16), and said circumstances that are full of loneliness and doubt (the wilderness experience) can launch a big change.
At this year’s conference Sharon Hansen, CS, President of Beacon Haven Facility in Minnesota, presented the Sustainability Committee Report. One thought developed by the committee – of which Mark Schierloh and Helvi Paasinen of Ohio’s Glenmont Christian Science Nursing Facility are contributing members – is that “Jesus could have helped the impotent man into the pool, but instead lifted off the lie of sin, isolation, and impotence and the man was healed” and “by doing this Jesus bore witness to Truth and its life-sustaining quality.” Mrs. Eddy wrote: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick.”
Upward Wing’s mission statement is in part “to bear witness to the Christ in action, meeting the human need.” Caroleen Scholet, Manager of Christian Science Nursing Activities at The Mother Church, explains the Christian Science nurse’s role as witness when she says: “It’s about loving and living Christian Science to the degree that your neighbor feels and experiences it in a very real way… It’s palpable, healing, practical. It’s how we take the best care of one another.”
She describes Christian Science nursing as “health-giving, strengthening, reassuring, calming.” and goes on to say that “The better we understand what it is as a ministry of our Church, the more we will live it and others will feel it. There’s a ripple effect of good when it’s practiced well, and it inspires that same ministry in another. This is sustainable!… The question at hand is: How are we, and can we be proving this for future generations?”
Prayer reveals unlimited Good. Mrs. Eddy tells us the extent to which we “hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true” determines the level at which we experience those qualities (S&H 261: 4&5). As God maintained the Israelites daily supply while leading them to the Promised Land, our understanding of the relationship between God and man leads us from a state of being sustained (supported and comforted) to healing as described in the 23rd Psalm’s expressions of restoration, abundance, and life harmonious and eternal.
As Spirit’s idea man flourishes. In this we fully appreciate the psalmist’s declaration, “My cup runneth over.”
You can read Caroleen Scholet’s full conversation with Kim Shippey in the June 2014 Christian Science Journal.