As I write this, it’s a few days after Christmas, the Boxing Week sales are in full effect, and I am slowly recovering from a holiday battle with a flu virus that finally caught up to me. It started innocently enough as a little scratch in the throat, but snowballed from there and has laid me flat for the last three days. Since Tuesday, when I battled through it to drive to my cousins’ place where I usually spend Christmas, I’ve been virtually a recluse on their downstairs family room couch. Christmas dinner, with the failure of the oven, was an entertaining (for all of us) comedy of errors, all adding up to a holiday few of us will forget. It was the only moment I made an appearance that day.
Yesterday, still in the depths of the flu, I thought about how different my response is to being sick now as opposed to when I was still a Christian Scientist. In the past, as a Christian Scientist, I would have been making at least a token effort to ‘hit the books’*, or to run through some key statements from Mary Baker Eddy’s writings I had stored in my memory to ‘correct my thought’ in order to bring about a healing. Of course, this never had any effect as I think back on it now. Sometimes I’d call a practitioner, and they’d give me some direction ‘in the books’. Again, same lack of effect–except I now owed the practitioner some money for their so-called ‘prayers’. All the while, I’d have this lingering concern in the back of my mind that I was not doing enough (because by strict Christian Science standards I certainly was not) to ‘heal’ myself, and therefore perpetuating my suffering. After all, what I really wanted to do was just sleep, and that’s what I always spent the majority of my time doing when I was sick. As a Christian Scientist, I felt guilty about doing that. Now, I don’t.
Now, well, I don’t ‘hit the books’ or ‘worry about my thought’. Instead, I look after myself. I rest, I sleep as much as I want, I take cold/flu medications as needed to make the ride a little less bumpy, and I take in as much liquids as I feel comfortable taking. If symptoms don’t begin to noticeably abate after a few days, or if they get worse, I go to the doctor, and usually a round of antibiotics keeps it from turning into something more serious if it’s not a viral infection. I feel as if I’ve slept more than 24 of the last 48 hours. That’s my usual physical response to being sick. I used to fight against it, thinking I was working against the ‘healing’. Now, I realize that it’s my body’s natural response to being attacked by a virus–to re-direct energy elsewhere. So, by sleeping and resting, I’m giving my body a chance to fight the virus off. I also wisely distance myself as much as I can from others. Some things are just not meant to be shared.
Truth be told, my recovery time from these viruses is about the same now, when I take a conventional approach to treating myself, as it did when I tried to use Christian Science. The onset of symptoms was late Monday, it is now Friday, and they are dissipating now (I am largely now just dealing with cough and sniffles, and some lingering tiredness). By tomorrow, I’ll be feeling largely back to normal; probably with just a cough that will linger for the rest of the week. I don’t stress one bit about my ‘thought’, although I do try not to drop down into the depths of misery that I could allow myself to. I just play through it now and do what I need to do to physically aid my recovery, and take medications that alleviate symptoms. Simple as that. No stress, no crazy mental gymnastics, and best of all, no guilt about not doing enough to effect a proper Christian Science ‘healing’.
You know what I’ve realized? It was my body that took care of things all along. Just like it has this week. Christian Science had about as much power to affect my illnesses of the past as starlight is able to melt a frozen lake. It neither has a positive nor an entirely negative effect, unless you account for the feelings of guilt because a ‘healing’ doesn’t come in say less time than a cold/flu usually takes to just naturally pass. I do hope, dear readers, that you all have had a great holiday, in whatever way you celebrate, or if you don’t, I hope you’ve just had a good time; and I wish you all the best in 2014!
*This is a term Christian Scientists use in reference to the study of the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures–the ‘textbook’ of Christian Science, written by Mary Baker Eddy, or to get into deeper study of her other writings, and other Christian Science literature (Church authorized, of course). These two books are also the ‘pastor’ of the Christian Science Church.