LOVE your neighbor as yourself

I frequently find it difficult to know when and how to love my neighbor as myself.

One Wednesday after work, I was dropping off a fellow employee at his parked motorcycle.  Approaching the bike, we saw an old homeless man trying to steal the helmet attached to it.  I flew out of the car, hollering threats, and felt like I’d done the right thing when the cowed old guy fearfully ran off, carrying everything he owned in a paper bag.

My friend and I congratulated ourselves on preventing the attempted crime, and agreed on what a jerk the homeless guy was.  I drove off, looking forward to going to church that evening.  And then my thinking continued, in an internal Q&A format:

“And what will you learn at church tonight?”
“To love my fellow man and help those in need.”

“Oh — kind of like you just did with the homeless man?”
“Oops.”

I had no choice. Circling the block, I found the homeless man and called to him to come over (after reassuring him I meant no harm).  I told him, “I’m going to church tonight, and if you want to go with my wife and me, you can take a bath at our apartment and I’ll buy you dinner.”

He accepted the offer.  He also left a ring in our bath tub so big that it almost took a shovel to clean it out.  He wolfed down a large meal, and when he sat down next to me in the pew, he immediately fell into a peaceful sleep, not hearing a word of the service.

Afterwards, I took him to a travelers’ hotel in downtown Atlanta and prepaid 2 nights for him, to give my new friend a brief respite from the streets.

I heard from him one more time, after he’d been arrested for vagrancy. He needed $50 to pay the ticket or would have to work it off with 30 abusive days on a hard-labor road crew.  He said he’d give me a $5 repayment at church each week for the next 10 weeks, until it was paid off.  I paid his ticket and he was released.  I never saw him (or the fifty bucks) again.

What do you think?

Was I loving my neighbor as myself as Jesus teaches, or did I just help a hustler get-over on another “mark”?

Paul White, June 2012

Comments

  1. Whitney says:

    Driving on an urgent errand, I saw a car on the shoulder of the interstate.  An old man was standing forlornly against the trunk, obviously appealing for help.

    I couldn’t stop then, but on my return trip I could see across the traffic that he was still there.  It had been 1/2 an hour since I’d first seen him, and nobody else had stopped.  Perhaps his appearance caused some to “pass by on the other side,” like the Levite and priest in the Good Samaritan parable. This was a black man in his seventies, with an old car, smoking a cigarette.

    So I exited, got on the other direction, and stopped.  The man, Earl, was immediately grateful for my assistance. He praised God, called me blessed, and said I was an angel.  It turns out he had a faulty gas gauge and had run out of gas. He had a friend who could help him with the car the next day, and he would leave it so long as he could just get home, because he had dogs and a horse to feed.

    I had a quick decision to make.  Should I invite this man into my car?  I knew that human reasoning might suggest that a young white woman offering a ride to an old black man she just met would be unwise, but that was based on fear, expectations, and false beliefs about mankind.  So I asked God, and the answer was “Of course!”

    I drove Earl home, about 6 miles away.  By this time he was so overflowing with gratitude he asked if he could hug me.  Again, I knew that I needed to ask God if this is what He wanted me to do.  And again God said, “Go ahead!”  I knew that Earl had no ulterior motives, he loved God, he was genuinely grateful, and that this was the best way he knew how to express it.

    Everything about Earl was truly genuine.  As I drove him home he could hardly stop talking about what a blessing I was and insisting that I was an angel.  I shared that I am a Christian Scientist, some about what that means, and that that’s why I turned around and helped him. I offered Earl the latest volume of The Christian Science Journal and he gratefully accepted.  He gave me some contact information and said that if I was ever in that area and needed anything, to call on him and he would help me.

    This experience has served as a powerful reminder to listen to God, not material human reasoning, and to be obedient.  Mary Baker Eddy in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures defines Angels as: “God’s thoughts passing to man….” (S&H 581:4) It was listening to angel messages that led me to be in the right place at the right time to see Earl, and listening to the angel messages to help him that led me, in turn, to be his angel.

    Also, Jesus told us, to “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”  (John 7:24)  And Eddy also said, “Giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us.” (S&H 79:31-32)  And last but not least, this reminds me that Jesus’ parable about the good Samaritan is not just to illustrate who your neighbor is, but that, as Jesus told the inquiring lawyer, we should “Go, and do … likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)

  2. Amy says:

    It’s so natural to respond to love–and Love.  Look how quickly it happened with this abused dog:

    http://www.wimp.com/dogchance/

    • Hope says:

      Tears streamed down my face as I watched this story of Ralph the dog. I was watching closely how the dog was approached, and how he was enabled to feel trust.

      I would like to connect with anyone who has worked with neglected or abused children.

      • Amy says:

        I cried, too.  But what a great example of how powerful love is and that redemption doesn’t take time.  It takes true love, and I think that’s powered by Love.

    • Gordon says:

      LOVE this!

  3. Shirley says:

    Last summer when I was interning at the Mother Church, I had the privilege of hearing Boston’s Police Commissioner speak at two distinctly different meetings. and learned more about “Love your neighbor” at each one.

    In an address to Back Bay business leaders, Commissioner Edward Davis commended the kindness and versatility the community showed at the time of the Boston Marathon bombings. He applauded the various hotels, businesses and community members who assisted the police in conducting the investigation. He mentioned the countless businesses that opened their doors for the public to to take refuge and the Lenox hotel which emptied its floors to house all the police officers and respective task teams. A number of hotels and stores had to stop business when the area was blocked off and he was grateful for the understanding they showed, in spite of their losses in profit.

    The second address was at the appreciation and farewell of Reverend Brown at a Ten Point Coalition meeting. Reverend Brown along with two other members of the clergy had formed Ten Point Coalition 20 years ago to end violence in the community and save lives. Davis and other members of the police spoke about how Reverend Brown and Ten Point Coalition’s work had been of great aid to the police over the past twenty years. What I so appreciated was the respect and genuine appreciation Davis had for the clergy. It is not often, in fact I have not heard of a city, where religion and the law have worked collectively for the same cause.

    There is but one law, the law of Love. We are all receptive to God, good. “There is but one primal cause. Therefore there can be no effect from any other cause, and there can be no reality in aught which does not proceed from this great and only cause.” (S&H, pg 207)

    • Shelly says:

      Thank you Thank you for sharing this.   So wonderful to read that kindness and love are admired and respected

       

  4. Jay says:

    Several months ago my wife and I were moving to a new city and looking for a place to live. We explored all sorts of different neighborhoods and toured apartments, townhomes, single-family houses, and even some basement rooms. In addition to the usual concerns of price, location, and size, we thought a lot about what our neighbors would be like.

    There were certain parts of town where we felt “safe,” and others less so. It didn’t take long to realize that the “safer” locales had a more affluent Caucasian population and the more “sketchy” neighborhoods had primarily low-income African American residents. Although not a revelation in American society, this correlation bothered us deeply and challenged us to think about the situation metaphysically.

    We strove to better understand the care and protection that God, Love, bestows upon all of us – no matter our position in society. Goodness is not limited just to neighborhoods with more material comforts, but in every neighborhood … and everywhere else. Our safety is not based on where we live, but in the fact that we are expressions of Love and Truth, neither of which can be harmed nor challenged.

    While thinking hard about this, we found a wonderful old row house for rent in a traditionally black neighborhood. It had everything we were looking for in terms of size, parking, and style. Rather than feel intimidated by being outside of our comfort zone, we decided to actively trust that goodness prevails. We moved in.

    Our new neighborhood was considered to be quite dangerous not too many years ago, and family members who know the area are quick to remind us of this. They are looking out for our well-being of course, but we continue to affirm that our safety – and that of everyone else – is based on divine goodness and not on material circumstances.

    It’s been almost a year now, and we absolutely love it. On our walk to the Metro, strangers wish us “Good Morning!” as if we are great friends, and we wave to people that we regularly see across the street. We have met our immediate neighbors and speak often (which, surprisingly, we haven’t really done in previous homes). It has been a wonderful way to understand how we can love and trust our neighbors, as well as our fellow man.

  5. Shelly says:

    This morning, at 5 I received a text message from my next door neighbor asking for some home made bread I had made the night before.   She didn’t know my text was going to ring, but I was already up.  I’ve been very thoughtful about these Radical Acts and looking for opportunities to practice them.

    This young woman had had a hard week and was working with a woman who was supposed to give birth any day.   Wanting to be thoughtful toward her I responded.

    A  little voice said “take it to her now”.   Which I did.  Just a little later she receive a call from a client who was in labor.  ( She is a doula).   What was so sweet is that she came to my home afterward feeling so much gratitude for that homemade bread I brought her.  She said she didn’t have a chance to eat anything except that bread.   She also felt that the loved showed toward her, helped sustain her through her during the day delivering the little baby.    Greatful to see evidence that we can never be depleted by loving our neighbors as ourselves.

    • nina says:

      Alas, Radical Acts involving food are ALWAYS my favorites . . . . here’s another.  http://time4thinkers.com/12-multiply-loaves-and-fishes/#comment-23257

  6. Allen says:

    Last weekend, visiting Los Angeles for my Association meeting, some friends and I attended a festival held in a downtown park. This festival encourages those in attendance to express themselves in unique and creative ways through love and acceptance.  

    Although the event is viewed as secular by many and criticized by others because there is a use of drugs and alcohol, we were aware that Scripture tells us “be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind to prove the acceptable and perfect will of the Lord.”  

    As I reached out to a young woman, speaking simply of divine Love, she told me that the day before she had contemplated taking her life. As I asked her why, she shared a story of guilt and shame. I shared with her that what she was feeling was a lie. That she was created in the image and likeness of God. That she was totally accepted and fully pleasing to God. And that as she stopped believing that lie and started believing the Truth “the truth would set her free.”  

    As tears rolled down her face she wrapped her arms around me and we prayed. Her parting words to me were “Thank you; I have never had anybody tell me that before.”  

    As Mary Baker Eddy said, “Divine Love always has and always will meet every human need!” 

  7. Alex says:

    We often think of this imperative to “Love your neighbor as yourself” as meaning, love your neighbor a lot. But it has meant a great deal to me over the years that it simply says love your neighbor AS you love yourself. That could mean, at the same time, in the same way, or to the same degree that you love yourself. I think the assumption there is that we love ourselves a lot, and so, in order to follow this command, we must then love our neighbors a lot.

    However, I know lots of people, myself included, who struggle as much if not more to love themselves than they do to love others.

    Recently, as I have been struggling with some bad habits I’d like to break, it has been dawning on me in a new way that I don’t ever have to feel guilty. It’s sort of an amazing thought, and feels entirely counter-intuitive. But it seems correct to me. If I am doing my best to be true, if I am putting my heart on the altar as much as I know how, if I am longing to be good to the best of my heart’s ability, then I have only to trust that God is opening the path for me to grow and demonstrate greater virtue.

    Is feeling guilt part of virtue? I don’t think so, though we are often led (perhaps only in our own thoughts) to think that it is. There is this voice that says, “How will you ever get better if you don’t feel horrible for messing up?” And I think we have all spent some time believing that reasoning.

    However, as I struggle against the flaws and mortal inclinations I observe in myself, I am learning more and more just, not to feel bad for them. More and more I am seeing, this is not me, but impersonal mortal thought, and my feeling personally guilty is not going to do the slightest bit of good toward bringing out more virtue.

    It’s often very easy for me to forgive the failings and shortcomings of the people around me. It’s natural to me to have compassion on someone who is striving to be good, but failing sometimes, or even a lot. That’s what I’m doing too! I’m really striving to be good, but sometimes I am not able to live up to the standard I would like. So, if I am to love my neighbor as myself, (or if I am to love myself as I love my neighbor!) I am free to forgive myself with the same compassion I would naturally have for someone else.

    Letting go of the notion that I am somehow personally in charge of virtue. All good things are gifts from God.

    • shelly says:

      Wow,  love the way you are thinking about this!!   It is so thoughtful and can only bring about healing.

    • nina says:

      Fabulous, Alex!!!   I was once quite cruel to myself.  But for the last few years I’ve diligently practiced the “reverse golden rule,” where I must treat myself as well as I treat others.  Ahhhhhhh.

  8. itsaboutgood says:

    The other night I went over to a friends for dinner. Afterwards, we went outside to practice with a firestick. You know? A giant stick that you light on fire and twirl around your body. So after we did this for a while, we started hearing these agonizing, drunken screams come from somewhere in the neighborhood. They were definitely impossible to hide from. I was sort of absorbed in the firesticking and did a bit of prayer to myself – but it certainly wasn’t on my list of priorities.

    When we crossed the street to get back to our car – guess where the sounds were coming from? Two drunken men RIGHT next to our car!

    Without even thinking, I headed right towards the two men carrying my Bible and Science and Health (you never know when you’ll need them). One jumped up to meet me and said, “Jesus! What is Jesus doing here!?” He grabbed my arm rather violently and I said, “The love of God is here right now.”

    He let go and ran away down the sidewalk. I started to follow him, but then noticed his friend sitting on the curb. It came to me that this thought was much more receptive. So I sat down with him and he looked at me and said, “I only want to hear the words of Jesus.”

    So I opened my Bible and shared this with him, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4: 18-19).

    Then I opened up Science and Health and read this to him, “In the presence of the Supreme Lawgiver, standing at the bar of Truth, and in accordance with the divine statutes, I repudiate the false testimony of Personal Sense. I ask that he be forbidden to enter against Mortal Man any more suits to be tried at the Court of Material Error. I appeal to the just and equitable decisions of divine Spirit to restore to Mortal Man the rights of which he has been deprived” (440: 25-32).

    As I read those words, the man uttered out, “divine Spirit” and when I finished he leaped up, sober, and started cleaning up all of the alcohol bottles and trash around him. He just kept saying, “Thank you, God! Thank you, God!” as I got into the car and we drove away.

    I find this testimony remarkable for two reasons. First, the power of the audible Word to heal any and every case. Two, the versatility and timeless Christ power of Jesus. I read two passages that, technically, are not the words of Jesus of Nazareth – one before his time and the other after. But they still are the words of the Christ Jesus, the Christ Savior.

    Thank you God for your timeless Word through the Bible and Science and Health. They are the true healers!!!

    • Kris says:

      Last evening some friends of mine went to a party. Afterwards they came by my house. The guy said he wanted a drink – a giant martini. I didn’t have one to offer. He backed right off and said he couldn’t have one anyway because he had to drive home. I was thinking about why people want to drink. They say it’s to have fun. But it seems like it’s to say “forget you world” – I can’t understand you and I work so hard and I just wanna do what I wanna do – even if it’s just on a night out.

      The thing is yesterday I was kinda saying that too – but instead of drinking I was eating stuff. And then last night I was so sick to my stomach. I thought this is just like when someone drinks too much. And, why would I eat all that? There was no nutritional value to it. Like alcohol. I guess yesterday I was saying “forget you world” I just wanna do what I wanna do.

      The truth that you told those guys…I am telling myself. Cause I want to do my work today without being drawn to stuff that doesn’t truly nourish me….

      Thank you for sharing the Christ with those guys, and with me.

      • itsaboutgood says:

        Hey Kris!
        Wow! Thank you so much for your beautiful honesty here. I love going deeper than just objects and material stuff. I, too, am tempted to judge people because they drink alcohol or smoke, or whatever. But then I have to look at myself and ask, “What do I do intemperately?”

        One of the most important parts of the Holy Spirit fruit-basket spoken of in Galatians 5:22 is self-control (or temperance for all you King James fans out there).

        So is alcohol so much the evil? It’s more the intemperance that is the evil! I have never been able to drink moderately. And I am striving to eat more moderately. However, I’ve found when I’m focused on selflessly serving others that my own intemperance diminishes or totally disappears.

        A short example, I went to a house party recently with tons and tons of alcohol there. There was also a dj setup and a garden patio. My girlfriend and I brought supplies to wash people’s feet and that’s exactly what we did! But after washing 5 or 6 or so people’s feet, nobody else wanted to, but more and more people kept coming.

        And I thought to myself, “What would love REALLY look like here – at this house party in Anaheim. Washing feet? Not really.”

        A bunch of my friends came, got hungry, and left to go eat dinner at a restaurant. I couldn’t help but recognize the irony – and missed opportunity! There were tons and TONS of alcohol bottles, but no food! And the alcohol bottles took up all the space in the kitchen!

        So I thought to myself, “Next time I go to a house party like this, I’ll bring ingredients to cook a dinner. That would really meet people’s needs. And if I throw a house party, I’ll invite people to bring food and NOT alcohol so they can feel like they are participating in a positive way.”

        So your post reminded me of checking balance AND temperance before ever pointing fingers at someone else.

        Maybe next time someone asks for a martini at your house you can say, “Don’t have any martinis, but I make a killer orange smoothie!!!”

        We’ve just got to listen and be ready.

        Thanks again, Kris. So much love to you!!!

    • nina says:

      This story is very, very interesting to me, because that’s not a quote from S&H that I’d think would have much power.  But words are just not where it’s at.  Check out this audio story.

  9. Shelly says:

    I had an interesting story a few years ago.   I took a cab to the airport in s city that I was not very familiar with.  Soon I noticed that the cab driver was going in the wrong way.  And then, even out of the way.  We were chatting during this time and is came out that he was Arabic.   When I noticed we were going out of our way. (( speak a little Arabic) I asked him his name and if he believed in God.   I didn’t have to say another word.  This man started to say he was sorry.  I asked him if he believed in God because I can think of moments when I needed just a little reminding of who I am.   The material picture of life can sometimes scream “you don’t have enough time, you don’t have enough money, you don’t have enough patience”  I would want to reminded in those moments, about what I really believe in.   We talked about how God will always meet his needs.  His whole attitude changed.   I could tell this was an honest man the moment I met him.  I didn’t even worry about the meter.  When we arrived at the airport he charged me 5 dollars less than the fare and we parted sincerely appreciating each other.

    • Tricia C says:

      That’s a brave story Shelly.  Moral courage, love and a little help of shared language ROCK!

      • Shelly says:

        Thanks Tricia,   It really wasn’t all that brave.  It was one of those moments when you just know the Christ is riding right along with you.

  10. jenny says:

    I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for their contributions. The last couple days, I’ve been feeling burdened by news out of Washington, D.C., which seems to reinforce the idea that we are inherently selfish individuals, intent on our own agendas, or obsessed with our own opinions. And I wasn’t getting a whole lot of inspiration about how to lift my thoughts above the news until I read this thread. The love on this page is AMAZING! And it reaffirms for me that such unselfish, Christly love is natural. It’s programmed into who we are. God created us to love. God created us to seek “[our] own in another’s good.” And God created us to be so interested in loving, so invested in it, that opinions, agendas, fear, groupthink cease to hold any power.

    This thread was also an empowering reminder that this love starts with me. I don’t have to wait for someone “out there” to change his or her mind, or to alter his or her behavior. I have a choice to love right now. And gosh, I have some incredible examples to look to as I do! THANKS.

  11. Tricia C says:

    A week ago, I got on the LA to Boston plane flight from hell . Shortly before take-off time came the pilot’s announced there was a problem with the AC.   “Should be about 15 minutes and we’ll be set for take-off” he said. (Who hasn’t heard this line before? Always 15 minutes. I swear it’s in a pilot’s manual somewhere).  In the actual hour and a half we did sit on the plane, I got to know my row mates who were on their honeymoon to Tahiti.

    After the instruction to de-plane finally came, there simply were no other announcements for what seemed like a long time.  We just waited in the boarding area, though savvy veteran flyers who caught a whiff in the air were hurrying off to make other arrangements. When the entire flight crew rolled by with their luggage, the rest of us put two-and-two together.  But still no announcement.

    Fiiiiiiii-nally, we were told the flight was cancelled with these exact words  - “the flight is cancelled, your luggage has been sent on (what about us?!), if you have a place to stay, you can go now, come back for a 6a.m. flight (seemed like a mere few hours away), just bring your same boarding pass”.  That was all.  What ensued was confusion, frustration, anger, questions and the arrival of several security guards as the line of 200 people with no place to go threatened to storm the desk.  A few more well place announcement like “we’ll help you find hotels, we’ll help you with transportation, you can go to any boarding or reservation desk for help”, etc would have made a huge difference, but no communication was forthcoming. It wasn’t that the airline didn’t help, they did, but in a no one’s in charge short staffed way that made people feel anxious.  And for some reason there were very few hotels available.

    The reason I’m sharing this story is this.  I prayed for God to open my eyes to behold wondrous things out of His law and got to witness the passengers pull together, help each other find resources, share information, crack jokes, express sympathy and generally bond very quickly under the circumstances.   Lots of stories were shared. The most heart tugging one was of the exhausted couple who were on the last leg of a long journey with an adopted newborn. I finally left the interminable – though pleasantly social –  line and found another desk to help me get taxi vouchers. I helped a panicked German woman get back through the security check because she’d left her carryon in the restroom.  I shared a cab with another passenger and had a lovely night drive through Boston before the long ride out to the burbs where my mom lives. My mom got up and waited with me at 3:30am til another cab back showed up. Both cab drivers listened to my woes and apologized for my trouble. Upon return to the airport, security wouldn’t let us through – because our boarding passes were from the day before –  so we huddled in the solidarity  of our continued ill treatment til the situation was resolved, sharing our stories, good naturedly one upping each other over whose life or work schedule had gotten more screwed up.  Back in line to board, I hugged my honeymooners and we laughed over this first stress test of their marriage.  On the plane, everyone was animated, excited to share and hear stories, including one woman who’s taxi had broken down on the way to a hotel.  We were all disheveled, many unwashed or brushed – remember no luggage – and all happy to be together and on our way.  There was a tangible feeling of  caring and relaxed camaraderie on the plane that early morning.  Eventually, we all settled down, tucked in our blankies and dozed at thirty five thousand feet.

    I get that there’s a general consensus that it’s a dog-eat-dog world (what an ugly phrase right?).  But this experience proved yet again what I’ve witnessed before in earthquakes, floods, and other crises – Challenging untoward events connect our hearts and lives and draw out our strength of kindness and compassion.  We feel stronger together.

    I know this is nothing compared to Syria, Egypt, or Radical Actor Allen’s experiences with the families in the Naval yard shooting.  But it does help me pray with more certainty that man’s real nature of loving his neighbor can and does shine through.

    Anyone else have a story?

    • Megan says:

      Tricia! Your story proves that it’s NOT a dog-eat-dog world. Whether we see it all the time or not, loving and helping each other is instinctual. After all, that’s what our divine Parent does for us. Thanks for posting this and for your keen awareness of God’s presence!

  12. Kate says:

    I have loved revisiting this comment thread over the weekend — powerful stuff.  As I was thinking about some of the ideas shared, I couldn’t help but think about my nearest neighbor — my husband.  He is such a wonderful example of this Radical Act.  I’ve knew him (as a friend) for decades before we married.  I’d watched him navigate countless relationship landscapes.  His consistent kindness seemed almost “unbelievable.”  I couldn’t imagine that he was as consistently generous, poised, and thoughtful as I witnessed from the periphery.

    But perhaps I couldn’t imagine it, because when it came to those closest to me, I could sometimes “blow it.”

    But he is.  And seeing that this was possible — even with those closest to you — set a precedent for me.  It could be done.

    In his allegory “The Screwtape Letters,” C.S. Lewis introduces that if “the devil” wanted to undermine the “Christian’s” spiritual growth he would keep his kindness and good works focused as far away from those closest to him as possible.  He would make his Christianity all about charity to those he doesn’t know and has never met and convince him that it’s okay to be short-tempered, critical, and indifferent with his family and closest friends.

    I’ve never forgotten this.  My husband has proved to me that consistent kindness, respect, and charity with those closest to us is not only possible, but has a profound impact on the world.

    A pebble dropped in a pond proves that real “energy” radiates out from a central core — and has to most power when it follows the natural pattern of reaching out in concentric circles.

  13. Megan says:

    I admire you, Paul, for the way you corrected your actions toward the homeless man. I think we can always trust the direction that comes to us in each circumstance, knowing it’s from God. I love that you invited this man to church! Sharing a sense of God’s goodness is a great way to love others as yourself—it’s what Jesus did for all mankind!

    Recently, at my job as a test proctor, I administered a test to a student who had to leave her phone on in case her son’s school called. He had epilepsy and she could be called to get him if he had a seizure. As she took her test I prayed. I prayed for myself to know that no disharmony could occur in God’s kingdom—the only kingdom. It also came to me to share Christian Science with this woman. At first I was afraid to do this since we were at a public school, and I didn’t want to offend anyone with an inappropriate religious comment. However, having witnessed the complete healing of a very close family member with this same illness, I knew that freedom and peace could come to this family as it did mine. I thought: if Jesus loved all mankind (including you and me!) enough to be crucified for sharing the truth with us, then I could certainly love my neighbor enough to do the same in this MUCH smaller way! She finished her test and as I collected it, I told her about my own experience and that my family member had been healed through Christian Science prayer. I saw a weight lift from her shoulders at the word “healed.” She said she was open to anything and was always in search of bringing more peace to her family. I wrote Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy on a sticky note, which she happily accepted. She came in stressed and flustered, but left buoyed with hope. I felt that I had truly loved my neighbor as myself in that situation by overcoming selfish fear and reaching out!

  14. Kristin says:

    “I am NOT praying about SYRIA!”  My friend and I were watching Nadal and Djokovic play tennis in the US Open on TV and the match was interrupted by a message from President Obama. That’s when I said it. Even though we had just discussed and committed to this Radical Act – Love your neighbor as yourself.

    But God had another idea for me.

    That night, unable to sleep in the heat, I went to the computer and the news piece “9 Things About Syria You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask” popped up on Google. I am embarrassed to say I did wonder where Syria IS and what DOES it have to do with me???

    And suddenly I remembered that little story in the Bible about the chariots of fire.  Wait, wasn’t that the King of SYRIA that warred against Israel? And the prophet Elisha told his servant “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” And the servant saw horses and chariots of fire round about them? II Kings 6:8-23.

    And what about Naaman, captain of the host of the King of SYRIA, who wanted to dip in the rivers of Damascus, the capital of SYRIA, instead of the river Jordan in Israel. He was healed of hot headedness perhaps, and leprosy. He was humbled.

    Oh no, and what about Saul being converted to Christianity on the road to Damascus…SYRIA?

    A study of Syria in the Bible brought to light its place in spiritual history from Genesis to Acts. And my socks were knocked off with this: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout SYRIA: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed THEM.” Matt. 4:23,24.

    There is a little hymn that says Jesus went about the Syrian hillsides doing good…and that, gulp, he gives his healing gift to…us. Hymn 96.

    So…love your neighbor as yourself. But surely not my neighbor who saturates the air with molasses weight incense. Not my irritating husband. NOT my small minded fellow church members. Not SYRIA, where little kids are gassed. And yet….

    I thought of this law: “Where the spirit of God is, and there is no place where God is not, evil becomes nothing…” SH 480:2-5. And, this truth: Evil is neither person, place, nor thing, but is an illusion of material sense. See SH 71:2.

    And slowly but surely readings came together for our church’s Wednesday evening meeting. “When ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified.” Luke 21:9. And afterwards people were flying out of their seats to comment and share.

    One member stood and said she had been raised in Israel only a few miles from the Syrian border. Bombs from the Syrian army were common occurrences. Children regularly slept in bomb shelters at night, and not at home. Her father fought in the army. When the phone rang, no one wanted to answer it for fear it was a call saying he was killed. One day she went home from school to find her home gone. Bombed.

    She now lives in the U.S., but she calls home every day to talk to family. She asks her sister, “Are you afraid?” Her sister says “no, because you tell me the truth about God, and I know God is here taking care of me.”

    The 17th book of Isaiah talks about the demise of Damascus. But by the 19th book Syria is blessed. “In that day there shall be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.” Isa. 19:23-25. Syria, the work of God’s hands.

    It dawns on me that Israel and Syria are states of thought. One to bless the other. One to change my thought from ignorance and indifference to the mighty hugeness of the one God.

    In the chariots of fire story the prophet Elisha leads the Syrians to the King of Israel. The King of Israel asks if he should smite them. But Elisha says, no, feed them. And, he does.

    At the moment I don’t know what I can do for people in Syria…thousands of refugees…millions of people going about their daily lives under duress. How can I feed them?

    Feed their affections with love. Know Love is their neighbor. This nullifies the poison that seeps into thought about them, and about closer neighbors too.

    Damascus, Syria is known as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. My home city is only decades old.

    I am humbled.

    • nina says:

      And I’m humbled, Kristin, by your always deep and beautiful contributions to Radical Acts!

    • Madelon says:

      Kristen,

      Thank you for your heartfelt prayers for Syria, your humility to learn more about its Biblical roots and its current situation.  It is indeed a special place in our Bibles and what is happening today must be stopped by the same prayers that ended the Cold War and have been prayed in trenches and on battlefields throughout the centuries.     I had the privilege of traveling there in 2004 and it has been much on my heart these past months, particularly a little village called Maaloula that is one of the last place in the world where the language of Jesus, Aramaic, is spoken. There is a small Greek Orthodox church and the nuns of this community, just last weekend, were assaulted by jidhadist fighters.  To see divine Love’s work at hand, the rebel fighters, who are supposed to be on the same side, prevented these militants from destroying the church and home of the nuns.    Divine Love, God, knows no sides in this fighting, but each individual has the capacity to listen — as Elisha and so many Biblical figures did — to what God is directing them to do that moment.  YOU clearly listened and are joining the thousands who are praying, from their own faith traditions, for Love’s will to be done.  Here is a related story.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2415586/Syrian-rebels-attack-historic-Christian-village-residents-speak-language-Jesus.html

    • Tricia C says:

      Oh Kristen, I was so moved by your Biblical research.  God’s governing care and direction were present then and are present now.  I join you and others in prayer and feel an enriched confidence from your blog post.  THANKS!

    • Sarah says:

      Kristen,

      I love what you said about Syria and Israel being states of thought.  As you pointed out, Syria and Israel are embedded into a text that is read by millions of people worldwide.  As such, they are understood to be more than warring countries filled with impoverished people; they are places of rich history (Elisha’s chariots of fire), healing (Jesus’s preaching the gospel), and transformation (Saul changed to Paul on the road to Damascus).  When there are news reports of the hostility in Syria and Israel, I think it is important to acknowledge that the news reporters are usually merely seeing material territories of the countries, protected by military force.

      Through an expanded understanding of the spiritual and historical significance of these places and the people living there, I think that we can bring peace to this part of the world, no matter how physically far away we may be from them.

  15. HB says:

    I’ve been helping a friend.  Sometimes it seems like a one way street even though he’s trying to help me back.  But I am sticking with the idea that I can’t be deprived of good by doing good.

  16. Michael Ingram says:

    As a retired cop, I probably have different take on this than others.  Your demonstrated love for mankind is evident.  Your willingness to step up and stop a theft is also commendable, and I congratulate you for that. Additionally, 30 days jail time was just what this guy needed…time to think about his individuality and where he wants his life to go.  Besides, he would have had 30 days (probably less) of meals, a cot and a showers.  I always looked at my career in law enforcement as a way to express my highest sense of right and protect the citizens from error.  Everyone has to be held accountable for their own actions, and from that accountability, our thoughts and actions in the future will hopefully change for the better.

  17. John says:

    Today, this Radical Act seems very connected to another of Jesus’ commands in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not give what is holy to dogs.” (Matthew 7:6) Isn’t this the back and forth that challenges us with this Radical Act? An inner dialogue, something like: “If I love them, is it really going to help? If I withhold from them, will it hurt them and me?” Trying to find a balance between bad and good is always tricky.

    So what if we didn’t try to find a balance between bad and good? Bad can’t exist along with good – otherwise it’s not good.

    What if the real command here is to make sure that I don’t think I’m giving what is holy to an unworthy individual, but rather that I know I am giving to one of God’s beloved children? What if the command is to fix my OWN thought, and is not an injunction against certain other people?

    Really, how can we love if we think that others are unworthy?

    No story to post yet, but I just wanted to share this inspiration and would love to hear your thoughts! Thanks so much for being here – I’m really glad to be in this community with you.

    • Gordon says:

      It’s an interesting idea, John. But the fact is, Jesus didn’t spend too much time actively working/praying for people who were unreceptive to his message. A few examples:

      1. When Jesus returns to Nazareth, he ends up leaving in disgust after the majority of the crowd fails to recognize anything in him higher than a carpenter’s son.
      2. The pool of Bethesda was not small — there would have been thousands of sick folk there, each looking for healing, yet Jesus only healed one of them. Why just the one? Perhaps because he was the only one willing to look away from the mesmeric promise of that pool.
      3. In Herod’s court, Jesus shunned all of Herod’s questions. He literally gave him the silent treatment.

      At the end of the day, the fact is that we’re not going to reach everyone, as you know. Still, I think erring on the side of your suggestion, by actively seeing everyone we encounter as “worthy,” is definitely the way to go. It reminds me of S&H 476:32-4. Err on the side of worthiness.

      • John says:

        Hey Gordon (and everyone), thanks for your comment. I’ve been considering it over the past few days. My first reaction upon reading was to try to rush something back to you, but something I’m immensely grateful for is that my focus on Radical Acts has been making me very aware that the talking has to spring out of the living.

        So these past few days, it has been really enlightening to come to grips with why and how I am loving (or at least learning to love). Am I loving my neighbor so that they will love me back? Am I helping that homeless gal because without me she’ll suffer? Am I living my life in a timeline, here-to-there, ends-justify-the-means worldview? Or am I willing to just love right now without judging if I “reach” others or not?

        This article from a recent magazine published by the Christian Science Publishing Society really highlighted for me what seeing with true, unrestricted love can look like. I think that truly loving my neighbor will show me how we are not separate little beings walking around.

        Last week I had an opportunity to meet with a friend of mine who’s a pastor for a small ‘home church’ in town. He thinks of himself as a fundamentalist Christian, and I haven’t had a very charitable view of fundamentalists ever since college when one of my Resident Assistants just wouldn’t leave me alone! But I was determined to just go and love and be willing to see what love was like, in that coffee shop, without an agenda of any kind. And it was a FANTASTIC time. I left with a truly humbled and illumined view of others and a great sense of respect for the devotion of this pastor. It sounds small now, but it was revolutionary for me to be able to sit in that coffee shop and be able to talk and listen freely about beliefs and lives with this man. I have been so afraid to talk to fundamentalists and now that fear is wiped away. I went to love, and all I know is that I was loved.

        So, I write this now not even meant to be a direct reply to you, my friend, but rather out of gratitude that this greater awareness of LIVING has become clearer to me. I’m not, and never will, post here to try to convince someone of anything, but I am so grateful to be able to share what LIVING these Radical Acts has meant for me, and to be able to read how your lives are glowing as well. It’s a pleasure and privilege to be with you!

  18. John says:

    As I’ve been thinking about how I’d respond to Paul’s question at the close of his story, I’m realizing the great import this question has for own life too.  A day doesn’t go by when I don’t see someone on the street asking for help.  I often get the refrain in my head, “What will they use the money for?  Can I just go buy them a meal?  What is really helpful?” and by that time I’m already 20 feet beyond the and on to the next thing.  Recently, I’ve been more aware of my ability to pray for these people and images of homelessness and helplessness, but I’ve still been frustrated by a sense of needing to know if or how I am helping, and can help.

    Today, as I read Paul’s closing question on his story, I realized that I don’t need to waste one more second wondering (or even fearing) if they felt the impact of my help.  I’m learning, in my prayers for myself – for matters of health, friendships, finances, purpose… – that I don’t need to consult my body (or whatever the situation may be) to find out if or how I need to pray.  Instead, I want to cultivate a sense of always turning to God, of cherishing my nature as God’s idea, so much that I naturally pray because I am with God and I know it. So, likewise, if I’m striving to love my neighbor as myself, I can extend the same confidence to them – let them so naturally be included in my prayers and love that there just won’t be a question of effectiveness.

    That consistency of acknowledging God doesn’t leave room for worrying if I’m going to be able to help, or to help appropriately.  At this point, this is definitely just me sharing the new way I’m thinking about this, and I don’t have a ‘story’ yet…but I know I have never felt this confident before about my ability to love all my neighbors and I am excited to see what opportunities this confidence illuminates.  And in looking back, the times I have been of effective help to others was absolutely simply an outgrowth of that natural feeling of oneness with God…and why WOULDN’T I treat this person in such and such a way?  I’ll share more about those later but I’m really grateful for this new insight and to see what I can see along the way!

  19. This beautiful story reminds me of the true meaning of philanthropy.  For some reason our society has distilled the meaning of philanthropy into “money.” It now seems to mean that in order to give, we need to write a check. Being from Silicon Valley, sometimes I’ve even heard people say, “I can’t wait to make it big from my next venture. Then I’ll start giving back to our communities in a major way.”

    Donating money is certainly not the only, or most important, way of giving. And we don’t have to wait on money in order to be able to give right now. In fact, the true root of the word philanthropy means “love of people,” or “love of humankind.” That means philanthropy can be a full-time calling, for each one of us, right now.

    I lead a website that helps people give of themselves, both their money and volunteer time, so I am acutely aware of these issues. But one of the thoughts that has come to me is that my “job in philanthropy,” most certainly doesn’t start at 9 am and end at 5 pm. If we follow the definition of philanthropy above, that means our every moment can be an opportunity to care for, love and cherish another fellow human being.

    One day I had a pivotal experience that helped me be a better ‘daily philanthropist.’ Each day I make a thoughtful ‘to do’ list with which I hope to carry out my purpose. The list might range from cultivating a large corporate partnership, to an errand at the drycleaners. There was a nice sense of satisfaction in checking off these items.

    During this day, I found myself particularly busy. I rushed into the drycleaners. I swooped in to pick up my clothes and leave a bundled pile of clothes to be processed. There, I had fit it in before a meeting. I had gotten one more item off my list! Accomplishment, I thought; and yet I didn’t feel it.

    What I realized is that the dry cleaners wasn’t an errand. It was an opportunity to love. We aren’t programmed to just get through life and get things done. Instead, each activity, each to-do, each task, is actually an experience of loving. That is the true spirit of philanthropy.

    As one great thinker wrote, a person “…is a marvel, a miracle in the universe….With selfless love, he inscribes on the heart of humanity and transcribes on the page of reality the living, palpable presence – the might and majesty! – of all goodness. He lives for all mankind.”  Rushing in and out of the dry cleaners, I had missed a valuable opportunity. What I needed to do was connect with my dry cleaners, know them by name, greet them warmly, and sincerely ask how they are doing. Now I know how Hao is doing, and we have a great relationship of warmth and kindness. :)  I look forward to our visits. I’ve now found philanthropy exists at the drycleaners.

    With the Holiday season of philanthropy upon us, we can each strive to care more sincerely for each person we meet.  By our simple interaction and communication with each person, every moment, we can all be ‘immediate’ philanthropists. Love – philanthropy – simply doesn’t wait.

    • nina says:

      Pamela this is beautiful — radical!  Thank you for your story.

      Hopefully you and your colleagues can make use of an exciting new feature on this site:  Radical Acts/the Game.  I can see you pulling cards in a staff meeting, or even at your holiday party!

    • shelly says:

      wow!!!   I’m going to live this idea today!   Love the way you put it into words.  I had a similar insight recently.   I was in New York and needed to go up to the 3rd floor of an old building.  There was a man in the lobby who was a type of gate keeper.    Don’t know why, but I just love gate keepers.   For just a moment, I realized that the work he was doing, and everyone for that matter, was really spiritual work.    It was an expression of God in our life.   He thoughtfulness, diligence, alertness, and willingness transcended what seemed to be a menial job.  In that moment, I felt that attention he was giving to his work made his work profoundly spiritual and important.   And for some reason I felt very honored to make his acquaintance.   God is so magnificent in His/Her expression.    To think that we have the opportunity every moment in every detail  to witness God’s glory in action in those around us.

  20. Tricia Chantha says:

    Oh Madelon!  When I finished reading your story, I realized I was holding my breath.  I feel so grateful for your act. Immensely powerful.

  21. Tricia Chantha says:

    A couple of weeks ago, I got an automated phone message stating there was a shortage of election poll workers in my area and would I serve.  How sad, I thought, in a country that has so much to be grateful for in its political system.  So I did something radical – for me anyway.  Without a second thought, I called the number and volunteered.  And though it isn’t strictly “volunteer”, the stipend doesn’t come close to minimum wage.

    I showed up November 6th at 6am, to a still short-staffed polling station in the main hallway of my local high school and served with three other newbie poll-workers, and a veteran who was a virtual wealth of voting information (thank God!).

    We got to bear witness to a steady stream of Americans excited about their duty to vote. A couple in their 80’s (she called him baby and he called her bunny), had been voting together for 60 years. A man whose family had barely escaped Nazi Germany said he owed his life to this country.  Large extended families with unpronounceable names (to me anyway) brought the entire clan and lots of parents showed their young children the process of choosing a president. College and high schoolers voted for the first time.  And there were also the grumpy, the hurried and harried and the outright meanies, but they were far outnumbered by the polite and appreciative, the funny, the lighthearted and, one woman- who voted, went home, baked us cookies and came back with a warm plate.

    In all the years he’d been a poll-worker (he lost count after 20 elections), our veteran said he’d not seen a station as busy as ours.  Our little group worked for 16 hours, processing an average of one voter per minute for 13 straight hours.  Me and my poll buddies didn’t get our promised breaks and we were pretty fried by the time that last voter showed up at 7:59pm, but we shared an experience in “loving our neighbor(hood)” that left us feeling a bit like superheroes!

    I admit my attitude going in to this service was to be the spiritually minded prayer warrior, who would bring calm to the dissenting masses, but as usual, what God showed me of His/Her gorgeous and uniquely varied children was humbling and left me feeling like I’d received a great privilege.

    • Madelon says:

      Tricia,

      Thank you so much for sharing that and for volunteering.  So many people use absentee ballots but the whole point to me is to experience just what you did.  Our little fire station polling spot was said to be incredibly busy too.

      I’ve been so inspired these past months by stories like yours and so many others that it is all finally rubbing off.  Went to Staples for Office Supplies recently and noticed, coming out, a man with a food sign, a woman and infant and a toddler, all sitting at the curb at his feet.  It so bothered me that this little family had to beg for food.  Immediately went over and said, ‘tell me what’s going on.’  He spoke with a thick accent — had come to the US recently from Spain.  Got fired from a blue collar job and was hoping to get another one but it didn’t start for 2 weeks.  THe new employer wouldn’t front him money and voila, the family was homeless and hungry.  I gave him some money and went on to the restaurant where I was going to grab a salad and go.  A lady in line said, ‘I saw you talking to them.  I gave them $100′.  I thought that was pretty amazing and so generous, but it still didn’t completely sit well.  I kept praying, ‘what do you want me to do’?  Voila.  This idea seemed so obvious.  I asked the young man behind the counter where his supervisor was — standing right next to him.  A young woman was very friendly, told her about this family and asked, ‘do you have a dishwasher job or something he could do to earn his way for a couple of weeks’?  She said she was just looking for a dishwasher and would start interviewing tomorrow.  Meanwhile, she told a worker to go get them and bring them in for a good lunch.  She hired him and voila, the old Talmudic proverb Eddy loved, ‘teach a man to fish rather than give him a fish’ was played out once again. I was so glad that the solution gave him some self-respect as you could tell he and his wife were very uncomfortable asking for $$.  So thanks to R.A. and everyone’s marvelous examples.  No room for bystanders in life, is there?!

      • nina says:

        Madelon, my new standard for favorite Radical Acts stories is:  does it make me cry?  Yours just made the cut. So glad and grateful for each tear.  It’s just Spirit blowing through . . . again and again and again!

      • Julia says:

        Madelon, oh thank you for your act of caring, sharing and loving your neighbor so practically.  I don’t have more words, just gratitude for this example of care.  Thank you.

    • Julia says:

      Tricia, I just love that you shared a very concrete act of loving your neighbors in the voting process.  Thank you SO much for telling this story here!  I’m inspired!  Hallelujah!! : )

  22. Julia says:

    Loving Our (Politically Incorrect) Neighbors

    Like most of us, I’ve been following with great interest the very long campaign proceedings that culminated last night in the presidential election here in the United States.

    I have a very specific feeling about the outcome, based on my political beliefs and understanding.  However, I’m not here to talk about that.

    I’ve refrained (mostly) from expressing my personal politics on social media like Facebook and Twitter, because I have a large group of friends who are pretty evenly divided in their political choices.  I’ve privately tussled with issues in my own thinking and also discussed issues within a close circle of a few-like minded friends.

    But how do we deal with one another on a larger scale when passionately held opinions run fiercely hot, creating deep chasms of non-communication, distrust, dislike and even enmity among friends, families, neighbors … and fellow church members?

    One thing that I find helpful is this:  The apostle Peter said in Acts, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:  But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”  (Acts 10: 34-35)

    To me this says that God loves all of His children, regardless of their opinions or beliefs.

    Peter’s words describe you and me.  His words describe our friends, families, neighbors, and fellow church members on both sides of the political divide.  Peter’s words describe both presidential candidates.

    When Governor Romney gave his concession speech, I was very aware of the grace, humility, respect, and genuine love that he expressed … to his neighbors.

    When President Obama gave his acceptance speech, I was very aware of the grace, humility, respect, and genuine love that he expressed … to his neighbors.

    That was so interesting to me.  I realized that each man actively engaged in loving his neighbors regardless of his disappointment or excitement, whether he won or lost the race.  In those two speeches, each man was there to comfort, lift up, support and express gratitude to the whole nation.

    This morning, I woke up thinking about the election, and this is what rushed into my thought:

    “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, “Love thy neighbor as thyself;” annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, — whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed.” (SH 340:23)

    When I was in third grade, my Sunday School teacher asked my class to memorize that sentence above, written by Mary Baker Eddy.  That sentence, she told us, was enough to heal the world, and so therefore, we were required to commit it to our hearts and minds.  We did.

    I can’t help but think that each candidate and each elected official will benefit from our collective, radical stand in loving our neighbors:  loving each other and respecting one another for the freedom to not only think our own thoughts, but to voice them and share them with one another; discuss them together, and most importantly, to listen to each other.

    Governed by “one infinite God, good”, the discourse can be respectful, engendering solutions that might never have surfaced except that we loved one another and took the time to see the issues from “both sides, now.” (Joni Mitchell)

    Let’s hear it for the privilege in the United States and elsewhere, to choose our governing officials peacefully and freely.

    Let’s hear it for the opportunity, even when we vehemently disagree with each other, to love one another, still.

    Let’s hear it for our teachers who, led by divine inspiration, instill in us radical prayers for living and loving each and every day.

    Hallelujah!

    • Tricia Chantha says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments which are a lovely example of how to approach post-election.  Hallelujah back at ya!

      • Julia says:

        Hi Tricia, I’m glad some of these ideas strike a chord!  They did for me.  It’s always interesting to wake up with a question or a problem and realize that the answer is right there — right there in consciousness, if we are willing to listen and receive it.  That sentence I memorized long ago just came rushing to the forefront of my thought.  I’m grateful.

    • nina says:

      Julia I  love what you’ve written.  I worked in politics for years, and burned out big time.  Now I just want to celebrate what’s noble and beautiful on both sides of the aisle.

      I remember watching a great documentary about the life of Ted Kennedy.  He had strong personal connections with Orrin Hatch and other Republicans, and once poignantly told his son that his Republican colleagues loved the country every bit as much as he did.  I’ll bet you’d enjoy this documentary:  http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5268333n

      • Julia says:

        Hey Nina — that’s really cool!  Thanks for suggesting the documentary!  I started watching it and will finish it this weekend. (It’s 47 minutes long for those interested!)  I’m really amazed that this phenomena of disagreement over an issue seems to mean that people become enemies.  Someone this morning commented on Facebook that if we follow the 1st commandment — love God above all else — that takes care of the gulf of disagreement, the enmity that seems to spring up between friends, and yes… family too!  For me, that was a very strong way of saying that we are all governed by one God — Principle, Love.

        Actually, I think if we looked at the national politics in the way that we look at government in the Christian Science church, it could be pretty interesting.  I learned this to be true:  We as individual church goers can support, honor and pray for the offices, or positions that people hold, in order for the church to function and prosper.  By upholding the offices that have been set forth as necessary, it becomes much easier to support the whole idea of church, even if we aren’t in agreement with the particular individual holding that office.  The office or job is so much greater than the individual.  And, it seems to me that the individual who is elected or appointed to that office naturally rises to the occasion to the best of their ability because the job demands it of them.  Sort of like the Christ demanded much of Jesus, and it demands much of us each and every day if we are to follow Christ and Jesus’ example.  Thanks again for sharing the documentary.  Very cool!

        • Madelon says:

          Julia,

          So appreciate your thoughts about the election.  One definite result:  with a 50/50 split so pronounced, it is certainly getting us all clear that daily prayerful support of these public offices is not a ‘nice to do’ but a ‘must do’.  I was struggling with the results, the dark undercurrents of the campaign, etc. and turned to the Bible, Jer 29.  Wow — definitely worth reading.  When they were in the Exile and how God tells them to basically stay put and pray, blessing that foreign country with their prayers.  I wrote a Monitor article about it that is running in today’s paper if anyone wants to see a bit more on the same theme.  http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=painting+of+woman+washing+Jesus%27+feet+with+tears&FORM=HDRSC2

          Grateful for these inspiring conversations across the miles.

          • Julia says:

            Hi Madelon,

            I love these conversations across the miles too! I’m glad you stated it more strongly than I did, which is to say that we must pray daily for those in public office, rather than can or should pray.  Thanks for stating it more clearly.  I agree!

            And also, I really appreciated your article in the Christian Science Monitor, “When the other candidate wins.” (Here’s the link, everyone:  http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Articles-on-Christian-Science/2012/1108/When-the-other-candidate-wins)  You shared healing truths for all — winners and losers, political affiliations aside.  The idea that we are here to trust in God’s government over all really does take away the sting of feeling like being on the opposite side of friends or family or elected government officials.

            The day after the elections, I read a terrific metaphor to think about — in church terms — by Lona Ingwerson, C.S.  I asked for permission to share her thoughts here.  She said “Yes!”  I think this echos, in an interesting way, what we have been talking about:

            “The Christian Science church is different in many ways, but you’ve
            already figured that one out. One of the differences is that it is, via
            manual provision, “distinctly democratic.”  We are not ruled by a Pope, a
            Rabbi, a priest or a preacher.  We govern ourselves.

            “So what?  Sometimes we feel critical of action taken or not taken  by
            our branch church and forget that we ARE our branch church. We’re IT.
            When the majority favors something, we bow to the majority, be it in
            branch church work or in governmental affairs of greater magnitude.  We
            may not agree with the decisions made, but we need to remember how
            grateful we can be that we live and pray in a democracy.  The votes do
            not always go our way, but thank God we have a vote.” (Lona Ingwerson)

            My post-election prayer remains this: the roles of governing and being governed still originate from the same divine Source.  Especially with such a 50-50 split, understanding one governing Source, God, must surely be one of “the leaves of the tree …  for the healing of the nations.”  (Rev 22:2)

        • nina says:

          Julia, I wrote here about the person who was the best example in my life of LOVING her neighbors.  http://time4thinkers.com/duet/  She also taught me a lot about working with “enemies.”

          She was telling me once about how it had taken her nearly twenty years to build a little recreation center for kids in a tiny, faraway rural community.  At that time the center wasn’t built yet — she was still laboriously trying to get people in our slow-poke rural county to understand the most obvious things.  I said, “How can you work with these PEOPLE???”  There was a reeeally long pause.  She looked at me with her big, deep, liquidy, all-knowing eyes and replied, “And who would you suggest I work with?”

          She taught me what it really means to live in community . . .  and it’s a beautiful thing.

          • Julia says:

            Nina, I am so enjoying reading your various articles.  And this one, DUET, (http://time4thinkers.com/duet/)  about your friend on the island who effected so much good and so much change… through, and by, and with LOVE — is completely inspiring.  I can see how she not only changed many lives in her community, but she changed yours too.  I think there are those special folks in each one of our lives who take us up in their arms and love us through till we can love ourselves — see ourselves and one another more clearly in the light of Christ that we learn from the Bible and the thoughts of Mary Baker Eddy.  These folks are our angels who bring us a sense of love that we cannot help but feel, learn and pass it on or pay it forward.  You are clearly doing that!  Thank you!

            I’ve had some pretty interesting experiences myself with some of the most unlikely angels in the most unlikely places showing me an incredible sense of love and compassion when I was lost.  I think you are inspiring some forthcoming articles of radical acts of neighbors loving me and teaching me in my journey.  But for now, thank you so very much for your original and radical sharing of your experiences.  I loved reading DUET.

  23. nina says:

    Several people have asked what happened to the historic church I mentioned on Sept. 28.  Everyone said the church couldn’t be saved, because surely people will give $ only to their OWN churches.

    There were so many ups and downs, and so many prayers by so many people, but ultimately 800 people donated and the church was saved. Talk about LOVING our neighbors!!! Check out the story below.

    http://www.abcnews4.com/story/19998453/downtown-church-holds-first-service-after-buying-building?

    • Kristin says:

      I am so happy to read about the success of this project. It got me to thinking about the ideas of heritage, endowment, and inheritance. The building of my church is only about 10 years old. I started attending Sunday School with this same church family in another building, and then that was sold and this new church built and it reflects my community well. It doesn’t look anything like the historic church in the link you posted so a passerby might think it doesn’t have a heritage. But it warms my heart to say I personally knew many individuals in my community who gave gifts to endow my church so that the idea of it would last forever, whatever structure it might take. When I served on the board another board member did not think it was right that we had an endowment. She wanted to give all the money away to the poor. That was not what those original donors intended, and I am so grateful. Their gifts are giving still, and enable us today to give more effectively exponentially. We all are spiritually endowed. Our rich heritage of the power of spiritual might over the material is recorded in the Bible. A study of the concept of “inheritance” has enriched and stabilized my life tremendously however. I recommend it. In this spirit, I just made a modest gift to the church in the link.

    • Tricia Chantha says:

      Hurray for the church and for you Nina – keepin’ the faith!

  24. E says:

    Yesterday I was on the bus and this very imposing woman shoved her way on swearing and saying she was going to knock everyone on the floor. Then she sat down next to me.  I thought about moving but then I thought maybe she needs someone to love her.  I consciously loved her. I thought that God loves her and why. Because she’s His mirror image. I relaxed. I heard her hum a happy tune. I think I contributed to a better world in a small way.

    • Tricia Chantha says:

      Bravo to you E!  I know I can feel the difference when someone is afraid or angry or compassionate and loving and that loving vibe feels good!  It most certainly makes the world a better place.

  25. jenny says:

    Every time I come to this page, I’m touched and inspired by the stories everyone has shared about loving their neighbors in a way that’s truly radical. That’s why I wanted to call on this community to join me in loving–and praying–for those who may not be our neighbors in proximity, but who are our neighbors in the kingdom of heaven. They are the people of this article–the people of NY/NJ/CT affected by Hurricane Sandy, but specifically the people living in NYC’s public housing projects, where fear, especially the fear of victimization in their own buildings, seems to be of particular concern:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/03/nyregion/in-public-housing-after-hurricane-sandy-fear-misery-and-heroism.html?hp&_r=0

    In my own prayers, I’ve been loving Mary Baker Eddy’s promise that, “The power of God brings deliverance to the captive. No power can withstand divine Love.” No so-called power of fear, no so-called power of darkness, no so-called power of desperation has any authority in the presence of Love. And Love is present and in operation for all the inhabitants of the kingdom. This is how I’m loving and praying for my neighbors today, and I hope you’ll pray with me.

  26. Barbara says:

    Every good thought and deed colors the whole of human consciousness by what we call leavening of thought . So these things go way beyond the one case in the face. The good you do goes way beyond anything you can humanly measure. So be at peace and praise God for every opportunity to reflect His love. You really do not know why you did not hear from the man, anyway . Many years after I had provided free shelter for a woman, after not hearing from her in all that time, I suddenly received a check  from her for $ 500.00.  But I had already reaped the reward of knowing I had done a loving thing out of my general love for God and man. The joy I feel everyday comes from God only and does not ever depend on the actions of another human.

  27. Kristin says:

    I’m pretty adventuresome but every time my next door neighbor invites me to lunch or over to her house I really cannot eat the food. There are simply parts of things, like feet, that make me want to faint or run.

    My neighbors are recent immigrants from another country. I don’t speak their language. They are learning mine. I admire this as we don’t even have the same alphabet.

    We do both believe in God, and we do have children the same age.  Earlier this year my neighbor asked me to pray for her son Chris as he had stopped out of college and was back at home, causing much disappointment and concern. As I visited with her in her kitchen she opened her Bible to show me that her Bible study group was reading about Paul. Her Bible looks just like mine on one side, and is full of characters on the other.

    I prayed, and thought about Paul’s shipwreck. His ship fell into a place where two seas met, and ran aground. Acts 27:41 I thought about God’s love for His children and I saw how Chris could bob up like a buoy and float easily into his right place, and not be pushed and pulled by two different culture currents. Later I sent an email to my neighbor and shared this idea. She and Chris invited me to lunch to talk about it. Yikes!

    We went to a very nice restaurant which was filled to the brim with groups of people doing business lunches. I couldn’t read the menu, but my friend ordered…and what a feast. Of course I tried everything, and with a smile. Before we ate my friend motioned that we all join hands, and Chris said she wanted me to say a prayer. Right out loud in this busy restaurant. I felt honored. I put my heart into it. Wow! We felt God was right with us!

    Chris is now back at the university, and tomorrow my friend and I are getting together for lunch again. I picked the restaurant this time! I look forward to getting an update about Chris, and to finding out more about the beautiful photos that she recently emailed to me of the town she grew up in.

    On the Christian Science Journal/Sentinel/Herald website a few weeks ago I noticed an online chat about a part of the world closer to where my neighbors are from. I listened in and found out that on jsh-online.com  there are several articles translated in this language of my neighbor’s that I now see all over my city. I emailed my neighbors the link. They wrote back “this church is much like ours!”

    Through this online chat I also made contact with someone who is striving to have a lecture- talk in this language at her church on the opposite coast of my country. This would be perfect for my city! There is a little roadblock to this lecture idea though, as evidently there is some kind of policy that lectures can only be translated in or for countries where that language is native. But this country is totally closed. It’s likely no requests will come from this communist state.

    Thinking about the next step…. My husband, ever practical, says simply send the lecture organizing people a copy of our ballot. Because we live in a cosmopolitan area our ballots are available in Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Spanish, Tagalo/Filipino, Thai and Vietnamese. I just copied that from my actual General Election Tuesday Nov. 6th, 2012 ballot. If my local government is doing it couldn’t a church reach out in these languages too?

    I just noticed there is a huge ESL sign directly across the street from my church. For those who don’t know that means “English as a Second Language” taught here. Hmmmm. Maybe if I drop some books from my church off in English they’ll teach from them.

    I was kind of unsure about inviting my neighbors to the traditional holiday party my family hosted last weekend. But they came, and they were awesome! Their faces were radiant as they greeted all the guests and jumped right into the festivities. And guess who left with a bag of homemade sugar cookies? “Don’t tell my wife” my neighbor said with a conspiratorial grin. Got it. :)

    • Kristin,

      Wonderful! Your story really inspires me to do a better job of getting to know – and loving – my neighbor better.  In our community we have a very large Hispanic/Latino population.  I’ve made half-hearted efforts to learn Spanish, but many other things seem to come first.  No, we don’t have any native Spanish speakers in our membership or congregation.  And we have very few who visit our Reading Room.  But I’m learning more and more that love is not just a response to the needs around me.  Love is active.  Love is already present.  Love is dissolving the need before it even occurs.  Thank you for helping me to gain a clearer perspective on how I can be more available in my community and to my own neighbors.

      • Kristin says:

        Hi Melissa!

        Thank you for your great thoughts! Here is an update.

        Today at lunch while my neighbor was showing me how to write characters with her finger on her iPhone and send emails in Chinese (very cool) her son Chris called.

        Chris is a freshman at NYU. Due to Sandy his dorm has been without power and we found out that he has been sleeping on the floor of the student center for a few days. His mom and I paused to pray, and then got busy finding a better situation for Chris. Via Facebook I contacted a friend and she offered him a place to stay short term, and connected us with a possible apartment for rent. My neighbor’s load was lightened with this news! That friend’s generosity sure quelled the initial fear and opened thought. A good solution was soon clear.

        My neighbor and I talked about fears…how people new to my city are afraid because they can’t speak the language here, and how long term residents are afraid of all the changes. New immigrants are now the majority in my city. We both agreed that by talking and getting to know each other these fears go away. We have planned another lunch, and for this one she is bringing her church’s pastor. We hope to organize something with our two churches together. Maybe a meal, maybe visits to a service, maybe joining for a service project.

        Encouraged by this Radical Act when thinking about neighbors I notice my thought has grown out of trying to get them to come to my church or see my way. The idea of love your neighbor as yourself has become so pure to me, and powerful. To me its about helping and healing, not justifying a point of view or judging or believing in even the slightest way that the Christ is not right with them no matter what.

        What a great lunch! The only down side is that we switched my iPad to Chinese for fun, and now I can’t seem to switch it back!

  28. Liesl says:

    Hi Paul

    I think when we’re acting from our highest sense of right it doesn’t matter what the outcome is, that’s up to God.  Your kindness to the homeless guy may affect him in ways you’ll never know. Thanks for sharing your story

  29. John says:

    This is a story that has really touched and inspired me ever since I first heard it.  I wanted to share it in the context of this Radical Act, because sometimes I know I have stopped myself from diving in to following Jesus’ teachings because the opportunity in front of me just seemed so…small.  And therefore, somehow not radical.  This story reminds me that it’s the sincerity and love which goes into our moments that defines their Radical-ness.  What if I was willing and consistently available to love my neighbors in this way, without judging the size or ‘success’ of it?

    While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean.

    As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.

    He came closer still and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

    The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

    The old man smiled, and said, “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”

    To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

    Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

    The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the back into the ocean past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”
    -author unknown

    • Kristin says:

      Dear John, I love this starfish story too. Thank you for sharing it. In fact, I think I am one of your starfish. A year or so ago I was very ill. I was reading and posting on a discussion page on this website. I think it was you who posted a note that made me feel comforted. It made a difference to me. Thank you.

      • John says:

        Dear Kristin,

        Thank you so much for taking the time to write! I am so grateful for the opportunity we’re given in this space to throw some starfish back in the ocean, even if we don’t know that’s what we’re doing. Whether it was my comment or someone else’s, you were the one who was available to hear Christ’s call – you were willing to be thrown back in the ocean.

        Too often, we hold on to our problems – even define ourselves by our problems, limits, or failures. I had a wonderful, life-allowing healing when I was in sixth grade, and I’ve cherished that healing for years. But just last month, I got this quiet angelic message: “You don’t have to define yourself as the boy who had a problem, anymore.” This was so freeing. Of course I still treasure this healing and will always be grateful, but now I see that I am not in a healing ministry because of a problem I had and the following healing; I’m not who I am today because of all the challenges I went through. God is Cause and God is here, and oh hello, here I am.

        It’s so refreshing and freeing to allow yourself to be thrown back in the ocean. What we’ll discover, truly, is that we never left – but that cold splash of water (daily baptism?) is a mighty wake-up.

        • Tricia Chantha says:

          Hey John,

          Having also had the gentle message come “you don’t have to define yourself by……anymore”,  I celebrate with you the freedom.  From Psalms 18 –  ”He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

        • nina says:

          Love this concept John, and especially love your fresh language for it.  I’m living this myself too, finally.  World belief says — there’s always a vestige, a remnant, a scar you’re forever telling war stories about.  The day you glance at the scar and do a double take, because even THAT’S gone — wow with God all things ARE possible!

        • Amy says:

          John, I’m so glad you wrote this.  I recently had a similar experience.  I realized (thanks to a very alert person I know) that even though my goal in sharing a specific healing was to help others, I wasn’t helping EVERYONE, least of all myself.  Because I was wearing that healing like a badge of honor.  Yes, I’d been healed and that was legitimate, but I was still seeing myself as someone who’d been in peril…and then saved.  I decided I was done with that story.  It wasn’t what defined me.  God defined me.

          I felt so free.

          And then someone asked me about it.  I was mid-tell when I realized “Oh no.  I was done with this thing.”  There was no graceful way to wrap it up.  But then I realized that I was telling it differently.  The focus was on God and healing, not on misery and miracle.

          I still think I don’t need to tell that healing so often (I’ve got lots of others!), but I know that the freedom I have now because of seeing myself and everyone else involved as always wrapped up in God’s arms is secure.

        • Anonymous says:

          I’m in the cold water now and it feels so refreshing to be swimming and going forward! I no longer resent dropping out of law school after a trumatic experience. I could have pressed charges but I didn’t. I used to think about all of the things I was deprived of. Not anymore. I am so washed clean there isn’t even a faint stain. Yeah! I love this great wide sea!

  30. jenny says:

    This past weekend, I attended a memorial service for my grandma. And I have to say, if there was ever a woman who knew how to love her neighbor as herself, she was it. I was particularly touched by a story shared by a woman who had grown-up next-door to my grandmother and her family. Literally, my grandma’s neighbor!

    Jane, as I’ll call her, didn’t live in a very happy home. Her father was abusive, and when she was still in elementary school, her mother committed suicide. She and her two brothers were left to their own devices…which probably wouldn’t have turned out so well if it hadn’t been for my grandmother.

    My grandma, however, managed to make time for everyone. In spite of the fact that she already had seven of her own children to care for, she always welcomed Jane and her brothers: to swim in the family pool, to eat dinner with the family, even to get help with homework. Jane says she can remember countless hours my grandmother spent with her–listening to her play the piano, watching her perfect a new stroke in the pool, just listening to Jane talk. It was like, Jane said, there weren’t nine other children also clamoring for my grandmother’s attention.  When grandma was with Jane, Jane said, her attention, her focus, her love were fully there for Jane. Today, Jane is a successful math professor. She said she could never have gotten where she is now without “her angel.”

    I think it’s easy to love when it’s convenient, or when life’s other demands aren’t filling up every nook and cranny of our lives. But real love? It loves no matter what–makes every person feel special and needed and like they’re “the only one in the room,” at least in that moment. It’s attentive and specific. It thinks completely of others, without any worries that the reserves of love can run dry. It’s never hurried, or too busy, or too fatigued to reach out. It loves without condition, or without expectation of anything in return.

    My grandma loved like this every day of her life, and I hope I can honor her by doing the same.

    • nina says:

      What a beautiful Radical Act!

      Years ago I lived next door to two little girls who were as neglected as could be.  I was afraid their needs might overwhelm me. But then I thought about the woman who raised me, who wasn’t my biological parent.  I realized that the lifesaving thing she did for me was very simple.  She ENJOYED me. So I enjoyed those little girls every day for the four years I lived there.  We built my garden, made Halloween costumes, even started our own art school — kids taught and adults were the students.  Like the garden, the little girls grew and blossomed.

      Seems like love’s not about time, because who can spare that?  It’s about joy, which is endless.  Thanks for introducing us to your grandmother Jenny!

    • Tricia Chantha says:

      Hey Jenny, I just read Kristen’s RA commitment to “seek first the kingdom…” (see 10/17) and she wants to use her cell phone and social networking more considerately. I’m gonna jump back over to that page and tell her to read your post.  Because when we shift our attention from quick check-ins on our tech contraptions to being fully present with others, what kingdom blessings we get!  Your Grandma’s life is a superb example.

    • Kristin says:

      Jenny…thank you for sharing the story of your grandma and Jane. They are helping me right now. I have been praying about a challenge. Yesterday one of the messages the practitoner sent me was about identifying the Christly qualities of foot washing, and mothering, and soothing in myself. This message from you about the beautiful power of mothering and grandmothering encourages me to value these qualities, and not discount them.

       

      • jenny says:

        Thanks, Kristin (and Nina and Tricia). It’s so fun to include my grandma in the radical acting!

        Kristin, I just wanted to add that I, too, have been thinking about how to better recognize in myself, and reflect, those Godly mothering qualities that my grandma embodied so beautifully. Along those lines, what occurred to me this morning was the line from the Bible that says, “We love Him, because He first loved us.” (That may be a slight paraphrase.) I was thinking about how I can replace “love” with “mother”–”We mother, because She first mothered us.” I love that our mothering is a response to the comfort and love we already feel from God. It’s not ours to create; it’s simply a response to the nurturing that’s already going on because of that Mother-child/God-daughter relationship. I’m taking this with me into my day.

        • John says:

          Dear ALL OF YOU,

          Good heavens. I thought I was caught up in reading all the postings on this space. But this morning I have discovered I was not, and now I am basically swimming in such gentle love. And I haven’t learned to float super well, so the more I read the more I am feeling completely surrounded in watery, lovely healing.

          Your idea, Jenny, about replacing love with mother is so transforming. And there are a lot of ideas we can do this with, aren’t there. And Kristin’s sharing, and all the stories here, are such dear reminders to me of the PRESENCE, the simple fact of the goodness, of divine Life. I have no life but the manifestation of divine Life itself. That is a very fancy sounding phrase that I could fear would remain in the airy realm of the hypothetical. But it must be LIVED, and these posts are illuminating the living, for me.

          We don’t have to MAKE our neighbors lovable, do we. We just need to be available to see how lovable they are. We aren’t creating harmony, creating spaces where love is possible. We are joining the prophet Isaiah, responding to the peaceful insistence of Christ: “Here am I! Send me!” We are trusting that God did, in fact, create Her children in Her image and likeness, and living that trust.

          Thank you for your gifts of reminders and love!

          • jenny says:

            I just love that idea of being available to see how lovable our neighbors (and friends and family members and fellow church members!) are. Starting now, I’m “available.” What a wonderful thought to take into the rest of my week!

  31. nina says:

    Here’s an update on my attempt to fall in love with the whole wide world.  I seem to be developing a certain expertise with GROUPS.  Like last Sunday at a special yoga class out on the dock.  Five teachers.  Forty people.  The brilliant sun embracing us all in late summer warmth.

    Finally we were paired, seated back to back, melting into holy silence.  I thought about all the people all over the world praising God.  In churches, temples, and mosques.  On yoga mats and meditation cushions and silent forest walks.  In factories, prisons, parking lots, etc. etc. etc.  People everywhere in a kaleidoscope of praise, all reflecting God in this glorious, ever-shifting pattern.

    Uh-oh, I realized, it’s happening again.  By the time I opened my eyes I was head-over-heels GONE over everyone in sight.  Again!

    As for individuals, I don’t seem to be as good at that.  Yet.  Count about 15 posts back.   Kristin has something to teach us all about loving our neighbors individually.  I’m apprenticing myself to her…….

  32. Kate says:

    Hi all…I was thinking about how this RA has continued to bless and transform me this month…and the words came from my dear friend (and sister-in-law…once removed) Lisa’s solo at The Mother Church this morning. It’s been one of my favorite songs for a very long time, and Alison Krauss’ version of this contemporary hymn by Ron Block is classic…but I have to say that Lisa’s singing of it this morning was truly a “living prayer” for me.

    Here is the link to the entire beautiful service, and Lisa’s solo appears at the 25:45 mark.

    http://christianscience.com/church-of-christ-scientist/the-mother-church-in-boston-ma-usa/sunday-church-services-and-wednesday-testimony-meetings/online-sunday-services

    To love myself…as a prayer…is the first step in knowing how to love others.

    affectionately, k.

  33. Jean says:

    I’m learning because of Radical Acts that I don’t love myself as well as I could and I can do a better job of loving my neighbor too. I’m grateful that I’ve been awakened to the need to love better because of this initiative. I was coasting along thinking I was mostly always loving, but rising to the challenge has been invigorating. It’s made me really honest.

    I’ve started to look at people through non-judgmental eyes. I never realized how critical I’d been. That woman looks so nasty, that man is scary, and that one’s just sad. Now instead I’m seeing real good in everyone I meet, the material picture isn’t grabbing my attention anymore. It’s very freeing.

    • Tricia Chantha says:

      Jean, thanks for your honesty (which is spiritual power)! And it takes humility to admit the criticism so you’re truly free to have a big, broad adventure in loving your neighbor……be sure to be kind to yourself!

  34. nina says:

    Here’s an update on my effort to fall in love with the whole wide world.

    I’m working on a crazy, last-ditch effort to save a pre-Civil War church that’s about to be gutted and turned into a luxury home. Last night was an event at the church – VERY poignant. As choristers in the beautiful, handcrafted balconies began singing the last song, I decided to fall in love with everyone there. Also with the recalcitrant owners of the church, who are making it hard to save the building.

    The song did it. As the voices lifted, it felt like everyone in the room flamed with light. They seemed like hundreds of candles, all dressed in elegant clothes. My tears started flowing, making the people’s light run together with chandeliers and bright-colored scarves and a huge, graceful fresco of the ascending Christ – until it was all one great river of light. Amazing . . . who ever heard of falling in love en masse?

    Shortly after that I met someone who may be key to saving the church. Stay tuned on that. In the meantime here’s that same glorious song, as it was sung just after 9/11: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GchISQIuVlg

  35. Samuela, your post came at such a perfect time. The article you referenced was an answer to prayer after a difficult meeting. It reminded me of this verse from a favorite hymn (#58)
    In Thy house securely dwelling,
    Where Thy children live to bless,
    Seeing only Thy creation,
    We can share Thy happiness,
    Share Thy joy and spend it freely.
    Loyal hearts can feel no fear;
    We Thy children know Thee, Father,
    Love and Life forever near.
    Thank you so much.

    • Samuela Orth-Moore says:

      Hi Melissa. I love that hymn too! But I had never thought of how perfectly it fits together with the “Daily Vision Promise”. I love it! Thanks for drawing that to my attention. And I also need to thank you for something that you wrote in 2009 which was published in the Sentinel (July 20 & 27), “Measuring Up.” I cut that out and pasted it in my spiritual journal. Some things that you wrote in that article meant a lot to me, particularly: “I realized that scattering my mental fire between two opposties– on the one hand, considering myself to be ill-prepared, and on the other hand, desiring to serve others– was not in the right spirit.” This was so helpful and I have used it in my journey and it has blessed me. Thank you for listening for and following that angel message! It seems to really fit in with what we are discussing here together as a community of Radical Actors.

      • Oh Samuela, thank you. Reading these posts – and sharing too – reminds me so much of a midweek testimony meeting. Plenty of gratitude and inspiration to keep moving forward and go and do likewise. Bless you all.

        • John says:

          I am so grateful and inspired to see how this Radical Acts community is bringing everyone together! What a neat space to gather in. Isn’t there something truly special about agreeing to come together and just seeing what is illuminated by our shared commitment to these Radical Acts?

  36. Samuela Orth-Moore says:

    I love these wonderful RA stories in the minutia of every day life– at the check out, in the parking garage, the bank, the street… !!! It just makes me smile. Thank you for sharing them. This is the healing light of the Christ, the modern day book of Acts among us. It reminds me of something I have posted beside my bathroom mirror and try to read and practice it every day. It is from an article by Jill Gooding (Christian Science Journal, Feb, 2001), “To See as God Sees”. I call it the daily vision promise:

    “Today, I’m going out to see God’s presence everywhere:

    I’m going out to see everyone as the loved child of our mutual heavenly Parent.
    I’m going out to see only the action of good everywhere.
    I’m going out to see God’s power in every detail of life.
    I’m going out to see this vision bring healing, light, and harmony to everyone I think of.
    I’m going out to see as God sees today.

    To do this is to practice scientific, Christian healing.”

    • Tricia Chantha says:

      Samuela (pretty name!), I love that you have that on your mirror. It makes me think of movies I’ve seen where the protagonist has to give some big presentation and they look in the mirror before going out to the audience and pump themselves up with how awesome they are. Yours on the other hand, is about pumping yourself up to see how awesome others are. Way to unself! Way to love your neighbor!

      • Samuela Orth-Moore says:

        Hi Tricia,
        I love what you wrote. I think your analogy is awesome. Thank you for shining that light on it! Your encouragement and acknowlegement reminds me of today’s Daily Lift by Chet Manchester, “Spiritual Mountaineering.” In it, he talks about the importance of encouraging and supporting each other to get up the mountain and I can’t help but feel that this Radical Acts discussion forum does exactly that for me! Thank you, Tricia and all the others participating. It means a lot.

  37. Tricia Chantha says:

    Like John, my errands went great too! In Target (I’d sort of forgotten RA by then), I noticed the cashier had this really cool multi-colored intricate braid, weave thing going with her hair. I told her she looked like a fairy princess and she just lit up! She then told me her cousin was training to be a hair stylist and to help her cousin out, she let her experiment on her hair in whatever ways she wanted. After all, she said “its only hair, it’ll grow back”. If you could have seen this girl’s hair quality (long, thick, wavy, shiny), you’d think she’d be much more protective, even vain about it. I suddenly remembered RA and it hit me that this lovely girl and her cousin must love each other for one to be so trusting and the other to turn out such spectacular artistic results. I was momentarily…..awestruck!

  38. nina says:

    Recently I fell crash-bang in love. I soon discovered that it wasn’t mutual – but on my end the feeling was still delicious.

    Remember? The connection seems so deep, you feel a touch of vertigo. The potential union is so holy, you instinctively bow. Whatever the person looks like, you’re floored by this ridiculous outpouring of beauty. “God,” you say in amazement, “this time you’ve really outdone yourself!”

    But in retrospect, I have to wonder: was that person really more special than others? “Love is not blind,” says a favorite author of mine, “love is the holy vision.” And: “The real is seen only by lovers . . . .”

    Does this mean that I could – maybe should – feel equally awestruck by every colleague, every store clerk, every random face on Youtube?

    Once I took a week-long course based on a magical book that teaches you to draw beautifully, almost overnight, by shifting from a linear, analytical, highly verbal mode of thinking to a wordless, intuitive state. “Be careful,” warned our teacher as we began sketching our classmates’ faces. “Using this method, you fall in love with everyone you draw.”

    We did.

    So how about I try to see at least one person each day as beloved? I started yesterday with a plump older woman who rang up my drugstore purchases. I let my eyes linger on the dark curve of her cheek. I thought: “Someone, somewhere has truly loved this woman. She turned someone inside out with joy. Can I feel even a flash of that?”

    “The real is seen only by lovers . . . .” Lovers – and God – and Radical Actors!

    • Tricia Chantha says:

      Nina, your post gave me a huge smile! I love the possibility that each person on the planet has “turned someone inside out with joy”. I’m on my way out to do errands and I’m goin’ for awestruck!

    • John says:

      I saw this post while volunteering in our community’s Christian Science Reading Room (a public space offered for anyone to come in and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere). I was heading out immediately after to take care of some errands, and for a moment I thought, “This might be really cool to do!” but then that was overruled by, “You need to prepare for this, and study and pray a lot before doing this, so why don’t you plan on this for tomorrow?” This made me really unhappy – and all of a sudden, walking into the bank, I realized what nonsense that train of thought was. I decided to try to see with love.

      You know how everything we see with our physical eyes is actually just light bouncing off stuff into our eyes? So basically our whole lives are supposedly reactions to stuff that is flying through the air? What if we switched that and saw OUT FROM Love? Instead of waiting to see what physical light bounces around, what if I see (or more like, ride) with the light of Love itself?

      So I did. I saw an amazingly helpful and kind staff at the bank which right there, in that 5 minute errand, totally revamped my view of “bankers.” Then walking to the parking garage – I’m there at the PERFECT time to tell this guy I was leaving and give him my great spot right by the elevator, and his smile made me SO HAPPY. Then at Home Depot, this gentleman ahead of me starts telling stories to the cashier and I’m like “Great…I gotta go…” but then I see the Vietnam Vet logo on the back of his hat and whenever he slightly turns his head I see his smile through his beard and I find myself so filled with gratitude and respect at getting to be in the presence of God’s son.

      Anyways. I know there’ll be more to write but I am SO GLAD you posted this, Nina. It’s radicalized my day already and I am so glad for this space for us all to share and support each other and the world.

    • jenny says:

      Nina, I LOVE this insight, and I love this challenge. Reminds me of a commitment I made several years ago to smile at strangers. I wrote about it here:

      http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1004/p18s01-hfcs.html

      I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it will take to bring peace to troubled hearts. Troubled hearts that react with violence to perceived affronts. Troubled hearts that feel so lost and hopeless that the only answer seems to be the destruction of others.

      Of course, the simple answer is “love.” But this new dimension on what it means to love–to really fall in love with someone, anyone (stranger, church member, even our perceived enemies)–has me inspired to love in new ways. Isn’t the kind of love you speak of the kind that sees another so purely that his or her faults become insignificant? Isn’t it the kind that allows us to forgive and forget–to not be barbed by a selfish act or a sour word?

      I’m taking up this challenge to see everyone bathed in that golden glow of belovedness. After all: That’s how God sees them. Why shouldn’t we?

    • Kristin says:

      Dear Nina…we could be Soul mates. Cause I am so seriously prone to falling madly in love with people. I’ll be walking along with my feet on the ground, and then whoosh, I’ve fallen over a crush cliff. Lately it’s even happened with people whose writings online I really relate to. It’s neat to see the beauty in a person through their writings, like here on Radical Acts.

      I like what you said about looking for one person each day as beloved.  I’m going to take this approach to the radical commitment I’m making right now to love my neighbor as myself.

      Many people in my neighborhood are recent immigrants. We do not speak the same language. We do not celebrate the same holidays. My next door neighbor has piled some debris right outside my window.  I’ve been wondering how to get it moved. I’m going to think more deeply about my “beloved” neighbors as I go about my day.

      Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Anonymous says:

      He stood leaning shyly against the door frame.  I felt a smile curl his lips, as he watched me bustle my nestling children into the class room.

      His wife had left him.  He was too big for the little kindergarten chairs. He couldn’t bake cupcakes. He was there because there wasn’t a choice.

      When all the kids met at the park to ride bikes and his child wanted to go but didn’t have a ride I called him and offered to take her.

      We talked. All of my mothering strengths he needed and appreciated. And I was in the thick of it, cooking, feeding, dressing, wiping, hugging, loving. These qualities spilled right over into his family. It was easy to include them.

      And then he noticed that I noticed the way he stretched his legs. The way he held his hands on the tennis racquet. The way his hands strummed the strings of his guitar. The way his hair slipped over the back collar of his shirt.

      Every morning our cars would pass and we would wave. If we were stopped we played the game of oh no, after you. If I didn’t see him the day would be flat.

      This was something I didn’t want to pray about. But I knew another who was praying.

      Opportunity knocked. It was as sweet to say no as it might have been if I hadn’t. Life was a carnival dream filled with colors and sounds and swirling rides of intellectual and emotional and even some spiritual ecstasy. My home life faded into the background.

      Then, the rhythm of his life changed. I felt he wasn’t where he always was. Finally he hoarsely barked that he was getting married. I went to the wedding, hiding behind my sunglasses.

      It took a long time for the saturation of rapture to dilute. Thinking back…it was the lecture. The message of the Christian Science lecture. Suddenly the Christ was vivid and forefront and warming my heart in a way I had never known before. I felt a new, genuine sense of true love.

      I righted the family portrait that I had turned over on my desk and suddenly saw a work of art.

      I guess you could say that there was a radical act of saying no in this experience. But there was also the radical act of agreeing to go to the lecture. Of allowing the thought that God might have a better plan. He did. And what about the one who prayed for me? Loving his neighbor as himself, quietly and patiently. Now there’s a radical actor.

      • nina says:

        Wow!  I wish everyone in the world could read this story.  The relationship between love and Love.  So tricky in the moment.  So beautiful when we get it right.  Thank you so much!

      • Tricia Chantha says:

        What a bravely told story of Divine Love correcting and governing.  Thank God for the saving Christ!

  39. Tricia Chantha says:

    Read your radical act right on the heels of a disagreement with my husband who -from Thailand – I have often (half) jokingly referred to as a fallen pagan, since he doesn’t even practice the Buddhism he grew up with. Your story and the message “With God alone agree” is simple, clear and deeply healing. Perfect message. No way to get around it. Thanks much!

  40. Jerry McIntire says:

    It might seem odd that I chose this Act thinking of my wife. But that’s what came to me, so I got after it. One of the things I had to get rid of was the belief that she was different from me– that she didn’t have the same interest in spirituality; that the pure Spirit revealed in Science and Health didn’t hold the same attraction for her, and that was why she attended the services of another denomination. Well, at least I had identified the problem– I needed to love more, to love her as myself.
    I had always loved and appreciated her, but I was also holding onto this “difference.”
    I prayed to see her as God did. That was a good start. A line in Hymn 5 says, “With God alone agree.” That became my watchword, to only agree with what God said about her. The healing came. I felt much closer to and much more appreciative of her. We were both happier about our relationship, and I was reminded of Mrs. Eddy’s comment in the chapter “Marriage” about how small a change can “renew the old trysting times.”
    As if that wasn’t enough, she started reading Science and Health. “I want to understand it,” she said. I am a newly elected First Reader, and she started coming to the service on Sundays. Now it’s regularly, and in August I had to get her a full-text Quarterly because she was driving our son cross-country and wanted to be able to read the Bible Lesson.
    Loving as Jesus loved is a radical act. It does nothing but bring blessings.

  41. Kate says:

    I agree with Mara…this is one of the hardest acts…

    And I think, for me, it was because I had to begin at the end. I had to know how to love myself, in order to love another AS myself. And there were some things about “myself” that I found hard to love.

    But, it was the “cast the beam” Radical Act that really set me on the right track. I realized that just as I couldn’t point a finger of criticism at someone else without three more pointing back at me. I also couldn’t love qualities, characteristics, talents, traits in another without it also pointing to something lovely in my heart.

    It was a full circle Radical Act. The more I practiced seeing good in others, the more I realized how rich with awareness of good my consciousness was.

    What I appreciated…saw the value in, was grateful for…appreciated in my experience…impartially, universally, impersonally.

    Good was good…it wasn’t more good because I called it “my neighbor” or less good because I demeaned its value because it was “in me.”

    I started to understand the universality of good. ANY good I saw was a part of me…and therefore a part of God’s borderless universe.

    I’ve loved considering this RA in partnership with the “Cast the beam…” RA.

    love, k.

    • Melissa Hayden says:

      There is a great article by Charles Ferris called “Just One Man” on the JSH-Online website that explores that whole wonderful idea – that what we love in others is made possible because it’s real in us. Thanks Kate. You said it beautifully.

  42. Mara says:

    This ‘act’ is one of the hardest if you are doing it right. But it’s also the most rewarding.

  43. Phyllis Weil says:

    Dear Ian,

    I am deeply touched by your sharing. Thank you for the love and commitment to caring for your fellow man. It is the selfless embrace of humanity as your family that will heal. God bless you for loving your neighbor as yourself.

    Much love,
    Fifi

  44. itsaboutgood says:

    I would like to testify to the radical acts of my neighbors.

    Today on the way back from the market on my bike I had a paper bag full of fruit and other groceries. Not too far away from the store, the bag broke and all of my groceries came tumbling out into the street – right in front of a car stopped at a cross walk. A woman and a man stopped what they were doing, ran out into the street, and picked up everything as I turned around. The car honked right in the woman’s face as she was picking up the fruit, but she remained. After bringing it all back to me, another man ran into a store across the street and got a plastic bag for me.

    I saw the face of Christ in all of these people. It was kind of a blur, but they were so alive with love. We are so alive when we love.

    I desperately wanted to do something for them. Throw them a party, buy them a boat, something! But before I could ask they were all gone.

    So I’ll just sit at home alone tonight, grateful, glorifying God for the infinite ways She shows herself to us, praying silently for the world.

    Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

  45. Melissa Hayden says:

    Thanks Amy. Our local Humane Society was a great help in the whole project from day one. Here’s a link to another wonderful story about loving one’s feral cat neighbor, proving that all of God’s creatures are … indestructible. http://www.dailygood.org/view.php?sid=290

  46. Amy says:

    Oh Melissa, a story after my own heart. :) I’ve worked with TNR (trap, neuter, release) with a group of volunteers for several years now. It’s the best way to help feral cats, right? I love how your prayers got you there.

  47. Melissa says:

    I’ve seen such lovely neighbor/animal stories in these comments I’d like to share one that’s meant a lot to me.
    Several years ago we bought my husband’s family home which had stood empty for a number of years. During the time we were renovating it we lived elsewhere, but once we moved in we began to get the feel of the neighborhood. Our own cats settled in nicely but soon were picked on by other cats, some of whom also sprayed our porch.
    We loved our home. We loved our neighborhood. It seems like it would be easy enough to love our neighbors. So I followed a big burley tomcat to its home hoping to have a friendly chat with his owner. But the tom’s home turned out to be a large blackberry patch on a corner lot. He was feral and the “colony” he lived with included about a dozen others, from kittenhood to adult, with several pregnant females. Yikes!
    A little investigation revealed that someone in the neighborhood had bred cats for a number of years, then simply turned them out when the breeding was done. I was incensed! Not only was this person unkind to animals they were unkind to their neighbors! Fortunately, that attitude quickly shifted to one of compassion: first for the cats, and then finally for their former owner.
    My husband and I decided that we could help. This was a good way to love our neighbors and ourselves. We wanted to improve the conditions for the cats while also reducing the harmful cat traffic in the area. I approached the neighbor (but only after humbly setting aside my own anger) and asked if it would okay to undertake this project. The response was, “you are an answer to prayer.”
    At first we were a bit clueless about how to proceed, but earnest prayer led to good information and perfect resources. It turns out that God loves cats too! We borrowed a live trap, and one by one, caught all 15 cats and had them either neutered or spayed, then returned them to the colony. We were even able to socialize several of the kittens and find homes for them. This took about 10 months because they were so skittish around people. In the meantime, we found a way to feed them as well.
    In the middle of this process, we inadvertently caught the cat (she was pregnant) that belonged to the original owner of the feral cats. I again approached this neighbor and offered to include Lucyfur (as she was called) in our spaying project. And again, the response was, “you are an answer to prayer.”
    Not long after this, the City came to our neighbor’s house and demanded that the cats be removed. We were able to intervene and explain that we had taken on their care and that they were no longer able to breed. We very quickly created a little room in the corner of our basement with a hole in the window. They come and go freely now, have fresh food and water, and are no longer menaces to themselves or the neighborhood.
    The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same Principle, or Father; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother’s need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another’s good.

    • Tricia Chantha says:

      As a steward of five strays; one a three-legged feral, I bless you for your dedication to this crucial act of loving your neighbors, human and non and your neighborhood as well! Your MBE quote is ideal and when I read that now, I will remember your beautiful demonstration of it’s truth.

  48. Bonnie Rea says:

    Everyone wants to feel loved and appreciated. However, there are some in the workplace whose particular services inspire resentment, impatience and irritation from those they encounter day in and day out.

    I recently went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew my driver’s license. This year we had to provide a birth certificate, or current passport, social security card and utility bills or bank statements with our full name and address on them in addition to our expiring driver’s license—too much information to be given to a government agency. I and others felt like we were mere pawns of the state.

    I was met with long lines, hours of waiting and all kinds of people—some grumpy, some charming, some bringing children, some attending the elderly. None were shy about sharing their personal opinions of the outrageous demands being made on us and the inefficient processing taking place.

    Finally, my number was called. As I approached the designated counter, I looked into the face of a lovely young woman. She was not smiling nor did she look particularly friendly. At that very moment I was filled with such a sense of gratitude for her. I said, “Look out here! We think we have had a hard time being patient waiting our turn in line, but YOU—YOU have been here all day. YOU have had to perform the same repetitive process for each one who comes to your counter—answering the same questions, making hundreds of copies, and listening to the same stories over and over again. Let me THANK you for being here—for being patient and helpful and gracious for hour after hour.”

    She was transformed. Her smile lit up her face. She looked at me so sweetly and said, “Wow! I don’t think anybody has ever said that to me or any of us. Thank you for that. Thank you very much.”

    This sudden influx of light embracing both of us demonstrates Mrs. Eddy’s explanation of the Christ in S&H p.332:9 “The Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness.”

    Bonnie Rea

    • itsaboutgood says:

      Sweet Bonnie Rea,
      Thank you so much for this beautiful story. I love that it wasn’t cookie-cutter perfect in the beginning, but that you caught what was NOT your thought and you looked through God’s eyes at the situation.

      So, so beautiful!

      :)

      • Amy says:

        I am going to remember your example and pay it forward, Bonnie. Thank you, thank you for coming and sharing here.

  49. Amy says:

    Fantastic! Isn’t it great to see how it’s natural to act in accord with God’s law?

    • Julia says:

      Yes! That was the most outstanding part of this set of experiences: not only working out my own salvation, but seeing — witnessing — my neighbors naturally doing the very same thing in their own individual ways.

  50. Julia says:

    About the same time we were dealing with our smoking neighbor (see Radical Act II in a comment above), more new neighbors moved in down the hall. They were loud and arrogant, playing roaring music and fighting into the middle of the night. Though we could hear them only when passing their door, they deeply disturbed their next-door neighbor. He was actually thinking of moving out after 20 years. When I heard that, I thought, “The peace of God needs to reign here too.”

    Months later, and just two weeks after we’d resolved our differences with our smoking neighbor, I bumped into the neighbor who was disturbed by all the noise. He happily told me: “It’s so much better! I changed my vibe about those guys, and we’ve since figured out how to live next to each other.”

    Wow! He changed his vibe! He changed his thought! He consciously changed his thought! He loved his neighbors!

    I was humbled by his simple, profound action. I felt joy and gratitude.

    That same night, I chose a beautiful card and wrote our now “smoke-free” neighbor a deep, heartfelt thank you letter for the freedom from smoke and the radical change she made in her life –- for herself and her neighbors. I also included a short 3-song CD of inspirational healing music that my husband and I recorded. One of the songs on the CD is called “Love Is The Reason For Living.”

    What impressed me most about this whole experience was that my neighbors took the same radical stand I took: to love one another; to figure out how to live in harmony; and to do it through respectful and peaceful means.

    It makes me love my neighbors even more!

    Here’s a video of “Love Is The Reason For Living”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyuYNCeWDPQ&feature=plcp

    Lyrics to the song: http://bit.ly/MUJzBE

    • Tricia Chantha says:

      I’ve loved reading your RA series :) And I just listened to “Love is the Reason…” It provided me with just the worship I need today. Thanks Julia!

  51. Julia Wade says:

    Loving Our Neighbors in NYC – A Story in 3 Radical Acts

    Radical Act II:

    During the time that we were dealing with our “quiet neighbors”, (see Radical Act I in a comment above) another new neighbor moved in next door to us. One day she suddenly took up smoking. The smoke came pouring into our bedroom. The air in the hall was often thick with it. On top of that, the odors of her cat began to permeate the hall. It felt like such an intrusion into our peaceful space.

    We did all the logical things: sealing up cracks, using a fan and air purifier. But the smoke kept pouring through. I would wake up in the middle of the night with teary eyes, scratchy throat and itchy nose. I was angry and upset, and I wanted some kind of justice. I prayed not to be angry. I prayed for my neighbor to stop smoking and for her to find her peace. I admit, though, that the anger often got in the way of my prayers. I felt helpless and victimized by something that seemed beyond my control.

    Whenever we saw her, our neighbor was embarrassed. She would throw up her hands helplessly as if to say, “What can I do?”

    Then some friends came to stay and we gave them our bedroom. There had been no smoke for weeks, and suddenly, the night they arrived, our bedroom was thick with smoke. I was very distressed by this. The wife said, “Don’t worry, it isn’t bothering me.” I knew that she was praying, and I certainly was too.

    That night I thought, “This needs to end. I need to stand up for myself, and for peace, and for normalcy in our home.”

    I stayed up after everyone went to sleep and started to write yet another note to my smoking neighbor. But this time, I was flooded with a sense of love for my neighbor that was so full, I knew it could only be from God. I was led to see my neighbor – really see her in my heart — as God’s beloved, royal daughter who is fulfilled, happy and satisfied, needing no outside substance to make her feel complete.

    As I became grounded in this understanding of her, I began to write. I first told her how much we value and love her as our neighbor. Then I was led to tell her how we had changed our lives for our quiet neighbors across the hall. At that point, I asked her to change her life. I asked her to stop smoking. I asked her to especially stop smoking late at night. I invited her to come talk with us if she wished.

    My radical act was to stand up and say, “No more” to this intrusion.

    What I was really doing was first radically changing my thought about her. As I gave up anger and frustration, and replaced them with a true view of my neighbor, I was able to go to bed peacefully, knowing that God’s solution was already in play.

    The next morning, I taped the letter to my neighbor’s door. The smoking ceased in less than a day. Our guests enjoyed a smoke-free night and went home, happy for their visit.

    The smoke did not return.

  52. Patty says:

    It’s me again! I didn’t realize I’d already posted to this thread (helping a homeless grandmother in downtown Chicago), so I just spent a couple hours working out this comment which spotlights some of my not-so-successful effors at charity and the lessons learned:

    Yo, Paul! I’ve been there, done that many times – the whole scenario including free hotel rooms. It took a ton of failed ‘helpfulness’ on my part before I finally caught on how to love my neighbor in the way Jesus intended. “Know the truth and the truth shall make you free”. That was his sure recipe for loving.

    Providing the needy with material things can give us a warm, fuzzy feeling. But that of itself won’t free anyone from poverty, dishonesty, homelessness. It’s the truth we know about ourselves and others as children of God that frees us from the shackles of crime, guilt, isolation, unemployment and self-destructive tendencies.

    Being loved means feeling close to God even when things aren’t going well. It’s humbly yielding to His guidance when we’re headed in the wrong direction. It’s the comfort of realizing God’s presence and care even when we’re sleeping under a bridge. Knowing what God knows about us is the only way to truly love ourselves and our neighbors – including those who appear to be “down and out”.

    Mary Baker Eddy was one of the world’s great humanitarians. Her discovery of Christian Science lifted her out of the impoverished circumstances which she had long endured. In gratitude, she gave much of her hard-earned wealth to alleviate human suffering. But she learned from experience that she needed to be wise in such giving, and it was her writings on this subject that finally opened my eyes to the dangers of “working in the wrong direction”.

    “Mrs. Eddy endeavors to bestow her charities for such purposes only as God indicates,” she writes. “Giving merely in compliance with solicitations or petitions from strangers, incurs the liability of working in wrong directions. As a rule, she has suffered most from those whom she has labored much to benefit — also from the undeserving poor to whom she has given large sums of money, worse than wasted. (Miscellany p. 231)

    Hey, I wondered. How can charity be “worse than wasted”. And what’s this about “the undeserving poor”? Well, I found out the hard way – again and again. I tended to “sympathize with error” (which Eddy warns against) and tried to “fix” things humanly instead of seeking God’s guidance. Like Eddy, I too suffered from ‘helping’ people unwisely. For instance, I once gave a homeless man an opportunity to earn pocket money by doing some carpenter work for me. It turned out his enthusiasm exceeded his skill, and It cost me a lot to repair what he had ruined. Yet, he expected to be paid for his “work” and (sadly) I complied even though I was low on cash myself.

    Unfortunately, I had many such experiences before I finally learned that charity truly is “worse than wasted” when it reinforces the bad habits of those whom you would help, and delays their needed reform.

    Back to your story, Paul. Even though the old man was upset when you caught him stealing the bike helmet, you helped him not steal, even if your only motive was to protect your friend’s belongings! That was a blessing for him. Wouldn’t you want someone to do the same for you if you were tempted to steal?

    Next, instead of circling back and getting involved on a human level, the wiser charity might have been to focus on correcting your mental image of him as a dirty, thieving, homeless outcast — to “wash his feet” so to speak. Surely, that’s what we would want someone to do for us. Only the truth of being can lift us out of the pit of dire human circumstances.

    When I take earnest care to establish the correct model in thought – to see someone as God sees them, it isn’t always easy at first. But when I stay the course, I gain a wonderful sense of peace. And when I feel that peace, I know that my neighbor is feeling it too. I know the truth I have been knowing on someone’s behalf has given them the power to move forward.

    As Eddy puts it, “. . . conscious worth satisfies the human heart, and nothing else can.” (Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 17)

    • Julia Wade says:

      I am so grateful for all the contributions on this blog! Thank you, Paul and Patty, and All who are contributing deep thinking and Spirit-impelled action. Your contributions are deeply inspiring and healing!

      Patty, I love what you say, “When I take earnest care to establish the correct model in thought – to see someone as God sees them, it isn’t always easy at first. But when I stay the course, I gain a wonderful sense of peace. And when I feel that peace, I know that my neighbor is feeling it too. I know the truth I have been knowing on someone’s behalf has given them the power to move forward.”

      I so appreciate this idea that as we see — truly see/feel/know/love/understand — a suffering or homeless person as God sees/feels/knows/loves/understands her, that God-centered vision contributes to the individual’s ability to see herself as God sees her. And that empowers action, revolution, solution and healing within that individual’s thought — and life.

      Thank you!

  53. Julia Wade says:

    Hi Amy,
    It is a great lesson! Being part of the majority in a building of lots of “noise-makers,” we had to look at the fact that not everyone lives in the same mode as we do. So, it really did come down to trying to walk in the quiet folks’ shoes — see life from their perspective. The great thing is that God provides solutions for all of us. And the result is peace!

  54. Julia Wade says:

    Loving Our Neighbors in NYC – A Story in 3 Radical Acts

    Radical Act I:

    My husband and I live in a very large apartment building in Manhattan with about 2500 people closely stacked all around us – on top, beneath and beside us. We’re musicians, which is what our building is primarily made up of, along with other creative artists.

    A few years ago new neighbors moved in, sharing one common wall with us. They’re physical therapists who leave at 4:30 am and return mid-afternoon to sleep. Pretty quickly, the husband began to bang on our common wall, angrily demanding that the music stop in the studio — during a time of day that is still most peoples’ workday.

    My husband always tried to comply, but there were times when he couldn’t. We spoke with our neighbors. It was very tense. We agreed that only tapping was necessary, not angry banging. But over time, we realized that we were at the beck and call of someone else’s schedule. The agreed-upon taps became bangs again. They were coming more often, and earlier in the day, making it hard to get our work done.

    We began praying and searching for the right answer. And it came! We found out our neighbors’ basic work schedule. Then, at a certain point every day, my husband started turning off his speakers and using headphones. He also started scheduling outside clients to accommodate our quiet neighbors. They’ve been very appreciative, and it’s not hurt our business in any way.

    So what did we really do? We loved our neighbors. We knew that if we were in the same boat, we would wish for the same consideration. We loved them as we would love ourselves.

    • Amy says:

      Oh Julia — I love how you loved your neighbors. Because from the outside, many would think, hey, they’re being unreasonable. You and your husband were working within normal working hours. But it’s wonderful to see how helping them doesn’t hurt you. Such a great lesson!

  55. One of my favorite radical acts of loving your neighbor is a kind of reverse of what we might expect. Most of the time we think of the apostle Paul taking care of others, healing, sharing the spiritual truths he was learning about Christ Jesus. But there is a marvelous incident in Galatians 4 that shows how others cared for him when he was having a tough physical challenge with his eyes. What makes it special is that these Galatians weren’t exactly known as caregivers. They were tough, militant people who even gave the mighty Romans a tough time.
    Paul shares what happened when he first met them, Gal. 4:13 – 15:

     ”Surely you remember that I was sick when I first brought you the Good News. 14 But even though my condition tempted you to reject me, you did not despise me or turn me away. No, you took me in and cared for me as though I were an angel from God or even Christ Jesus himself…I am sure you would have taken out your own eyes and given them to me if it had been possible.”

    This has helped me think about those who look like they’re having a pretty rough time. Do I ‘take them in’ like those Galatians did? A great standard here from the Bible. Maybe that person is a ‘Paul’ waiting to help so many people to Christ.
    Tyndale House Publishers. (2007). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (3rd ed.) (Ga 4:13–14). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

  56. Kate says:

    Hi all…thank you for these beautiful and inspiring stories and insights. I have been trying to engage in this Radical Act in the purest and simplest way this summer.

    And one of the thoughts that has been most helpful is the statement itself:

    “Love your neighbor, as your self.”

    I am beginning to see that the only real self I have, is the one that love my neighbor. Anything less than loving my neighbor is a distortion of my true, eternal, infinite selfhood. I cannot be ME if I am not loving my neighbor….impartially, universally, unconditionally.

    The only entity I have, the only sense of true being I have is when I am loving my neighbor. There is no choice in who, no decision to be made about when, no need to figure out the how…it was my very being to love my neighbor. I only needed to yield to my true nature as effortlessly as a baby responds to loving, and the leaflet turns towards the sun.

    I had the most profound wake up call about this some years ago when I’d been working very very hard to always be loving. But one day someone did something that I felt was terribly unkind. I became hurt and angry.

    A friend lovingly, but firmly, reminded me that since “Love alone is Life…” if I wasn’t loving, I wasn’t living…I was dead to myself…my true self.”

    That really woke me up…I am trying to stay awake…and alive with Love.

  57. Ali says:

    I live three miles from Penn State University. I grew up with it in my back yard. If you have followed our story for the last months or even the last few days, you would know that this town is in the midst of unprecedented chaos. Here is the sequence of events from last November until now. Scandal broke. Riots. Vigils for the victims. Funeral. Memorial at the statue of Joe Paterno, who was the one shining beacon of truth in the whole thing. Trial. Explicit and heartbreaking testimony from the victims. Jail for life the abuser. NCAA ruling came yesterday. Statue of that man was ripped out of the ground sunday, on the 6 month anniversary of his death. This town seems shrouded in doubt, controversy, anger, and distrust. The fact that we were on the front page of every major national newspaper today is no longer surprising to me. How quickly things of this world fall.

    These past few days I’ve felt like I was the only one knowing the Truth. People just walk around town crying at what once was. I have felt so powerless against that burden for these last few days and didn’t feel like I was gaining traction against error. Everyone I came across had a new rumor to spread, a new anger to voice, and a new tear to shed at the injustice.

    I knew I wanted to share this but I didn’t know which RA to fit it under. But what I feel called to do more than anything is to love. Love every person I come in contact with. Refuse to feel or express or know anything else for them and for this town. I have to know that Love has a stronger power. I keep thinking and feeling like this town is “dark.” But I refute that thought and lift us up with simply “And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” We can only be surrounded by light.

  58. Mimi says:

    I loved my neighbor MORE than myself today.

    A friend who I love is elderly and has also been sick. She needed a very messy clean up job done. She didn’t want to accept my help at first but I was able to gently let her know that I was happy to do it.

    But happy isn’t really accurate. The job was hard and something I never have to do at home. Still, I kept thinking that if I needed help like this I’d really want someone to step in even if I resisted.

    So even though the job was unpleasant, I’m glad I did it. And I was encouraged to offer to help because of Radical Acts. So thank you for encouraging me to be the child of God that I was designed to be.

  59. Tricia Chantha says:

    Beautiful! The real deal. I love your witness and wholeheartedly agree with Amy – small but HUGE!

  60. Ali says:

    This happened recently and I wanted to share!

    The line of under-caffeinated customers snaked around me in a half circle. Steamed milk hit my arm at 160 degrees. I bit the inside of my lip as I held the metal can more carefully under the steaming wand.

    I heard a co-worker at the register become flustered as a customer changed her order for the third time. We hadn’t gotten into a rhythm yet and were all frazzled. “It’s like I told you the first time. I don’t understand why you can’t get it right.”

    All my co-workers simultaneously rolled their eyes. I stepped behind the less experienced barista and whispered, “It’s just coffee.” She quietly smiled as she rapidly concocted a decaf triple venti skinny vanilla latte.

    This customer finally completed her order and walked around the bar to get her drink. I could feel her impatience and frustration. She spoke loudly to her friend: “I bet the other store would have made faster drinks.”

    Her presence was now officially irritating me. Then, as I snapped the lid on her drink, I suddenly was overwhelmed with the need to love her. It really felt absolutely essential. It was my purpose in that moment to love her.

    I turned to hand her the drink, then complimented her on her necklace, which caught her off guard. I tried to catch her eye. “I hope you have a really great day today.” I tried to pack that sentence with as much love as I could. I just tried to radiate it.

    She turned away, then turned back with a quietness in her eyes. She looked to my co-worker at the register. “Will you tell her I’m sorry?” I smiled. “Sure.”

  61. emmylc says:

    Lately I’ve been really striving to live this radical act.
    I’m in Boston and living in a city is a new experience for me. When I got here, I was warned that I should probably be a bit more circumspect in my policy of making eye contact and smiling at everyone I pass.
    Originally I tried to more cautious about that tendency but it was making me really uncomfortable to be ignoring the people I would pass on the street.
    I decided that because the people I was passing were fellow human beings and I was being unloving by refusing to acknowledge them. I began making eye contact with and smiling at every single person I passed on the street.
    There were times when it was uncomfortable, time when they seemed confused or annoyed that I had interrupted their private thoughts with my presence, but there were so many times when it was beautiful.
    People’s faces lit up when I smiled at them, people stood up straighter, sometimes they even spoke to me, compliments, comments, or even just greetings. It’s become one of the highlights of my days, these opportunities when I smile at people and they respond so well-in that moment of connection I feel God’s love enveloping both of us.

  62. Carlos says:

    There’s a situation going on at church that has forced me to think about this radical act…

    A lady walked in about a year ago with what seemed to be some behavioral or emotional issues. At first, I handled this the way I had been handling other similar situations, getting my thought in the right place about her – a child of God congregating with fellow ideas of His creation, rather than someone with issues that could be disruptive. This helped me to approach the person with the right view and expectation of good. It seems that at first that prayer alone helped with the person’s overall behavior and our (short) opportunities for interaction.

    I started to notice, however, that after some time this lady began to get uncomfortable anytime I (or anyone else) would approach her. And yet, she continued to come to our services (all of them – English and Spanish, though I’m quite sure she only speaks English) and sit alone in a corner. Just like at the beginning it would have been very easy to see this person as disruptive, it now seemed way too easy to think of her as simply not wanting help. Yet she continues to show up, on Wednesday and twice on Sunday. She is obviously finding comfort in a way that I don’t yet understand.

    I’ve been thinking about how radical Jesus truly was… not in his humanitarian aid, but in how LITTLE he actually had to do. Humanitarian work seems to open the door for division – between those who want to or can be helped, and those who don’t want to or can’t be helped. The type of thinking Jesus exemplified, however, left no distinction between classes, sexes, age groups, religions, or even attitudes. It was so far beyond the physical it is almost hard to comprehend. Do we really get how radical this is?

    Jesus did not have to visit the man’s house whose child was dying. He did not have to hurry to see Lazarus, though he did show up a few days after Lazarus’ death for the benefit of those present. He did not even have to fight the Roman or Pharisaical injustice that would eventually crucify him.

    The more I study his life, the more I realize that he was only radical to those who didn’t understand his teachings yet. To himself (or to his theology), his actions seem entirely natural – almost effortless. Should we be trying to be more radical in our actions? Or should we be working on moving our thinking to a place where such healing no longer seems radical?

    I know to some on this site prayer alone may seem like a cop-out (though perhaps I’m preaching to the choir). Well… I’m not talking about the kind of prayer/thinking that does not achieve immediate results. I’m talking about the kind of thinking that Jesus exemplified. He did not merely tell us to that everyone was our neighbor and to love them as such, but to love them (everyone) as ourselves.

    I think here’s where honesty should guide our actions. I am trying to physically “do” whenever my understanding limits me to that type of action and aid, but I am also trying very hard not to take my eye off the target – that level of understanding which does less and achieves more, because it understands God as the only action.

    Prayer should never become a cop-out. We should not be satisfied with moving on after having prayed for a situation if we’re not sure whether or not the need has been met. But I think we also have to watch that material “doing” does not become a cop-out either, especially when we’re talking about Jesus and being truly “radical”. The world needs so much more than humanitarian aid, and Jesus showed us EXACTLY what that was! He was not radical for the craziness an grandeur of his actions; he was radical for seeing everyone as himself – God’s own child – which brought about changes far beyond material aid.

    Our human efforts so often seem to reach their limits. His efforts never did.

    I don’t think being truly radical has anything to do with being at the forefront (or an extreme edge) of what’s already been accepted. Mary Baker Eddy says that, “Jesus’ system of healing… has not yet been generally accepted…” two thousand years later! Is anyone else with me on this?

    • nina says:

      “That level of understanding which does less and achieves more, because it understands God as the only action.” Aaaaaaay – MEN! Now I just gotta live it…..

    • Ali says:

      What absolutely beautiful thoughts regarding prayer. I often struggle with this topic and how to help clarify what I feel the meaning and purpose of prayer is to others, even to those who are not Christian at all. A struggle or gripe is often meant with “I’ll pray for you.” While this is a lovely thought, how often is the prayer remembered? How often do we put our hearts into it? You have put it perfectly Carlos. Do not move until you feel the need has been met. I love that.

  63. Amy says:

    @Tricia –

    I love YOUR honesty and self-knowledge.

    Makes me happy to know that there are people like you out there helping people who need it. You’re inspiring me to be a better Radical ACTor.

    :)

  64. Tricia Chantha says:

    I was on a long drive home from a transforming week of Bible workshops. One of the main themes was kinship in the kingdom of God. Put simply, loving God + loving neighbor = kingdom of God within, at hand, among us. I stopped at a Burger King to use the restroom. As I was in the stall, I heard someone crying. I thought “maybe she’ll be gone by the time I come out”. Not very proud of that first thought! Fortunately, my second thought was “she is my kin, my sister, and this is the kingdom”. As I stepped out of the stall, I saw a young woman, utterly dejected and attempting to compose herself. Sidebar – ever see someone clearly distressed and say to them “are you o.k.?” Seriously?! This question for me is code for “please pull yourself together because you’re making me uncomfortable” which is usually what someone then does.

    But this time, as she started to turn away, the words came out of my mouth “how can I help?” Not “can I”, but “HOW can I”, and that one word change, as I heard it coming from my mouth, suddenly felt empowering. I had just committed myself to action. And with that, she really started to weep, and I wrapped my arms around her as she poured out a story – her grandfather just died, she missed him terribly, she wanted to be with and mourn with her family but she was estranged from them. Her choices had been terrible, and she knew this and the worst choice was a relationship she was stuck in that was full of isolation and pain and empty promises. She knew she needed to leave but couldn’t seem to do it. I just listened and loved her for her self-knowledge and desire for something better. Then I made sure she wasn’t being physically abused. I asked if she’d like to sit in my car for a while. As we left the restaurant, her boyfriend was waiting against the building, looking somber and sad. They had been in a fight and she’d run away for over an hour. She thanked me and asked my name. I hugged her once more and whispered in her ear “you must be true to yourself before you can be true to anyone else”. The words came from my heart and my own experience, hard learned at times.

    As I write this, I realize what I was saying was – you can love (be true) to your neighbor, only if first you love (are true) to yourself. And the basis for that self-love is the relationship we have with a God that pouring forth love always. I spent the last hour of my drive home cherishing these two as safe and sound in God’s love. I admit it took me awhile in prayer to get her boyfriend there, but when I did, it became a sacred place, a kingdom space.

    • paul boy says:

      Great thought, Tricia, regarding “HOW can I” help, rather than “CAN I” help.

      That one-step-further commitment will really help me with my own future opportunities.

    • Martha Doran says:

      How precious and loving – that you could allow Grace to flow through you. And that one word , How, that framed your outreach, gave it the power of the Kingdom. And I so loved your writing style…sounds just like you!

    • Tricia,
      What an example for ‘bringing the Bible forward.’ As someone who attended that same Bible conference, I know how much you radiated with the knowledge of that Kingdom right here and now, then boom–you proved it.

      I had an experience two years ago in learning to love more courageously. As an Executive Coach and consultant, my clients often shared the most heartfelt, difficult parts of their jobs and lives. Tears were not uncommon. One amazing senior executive was going through what looked like a nervous breakdown over the unbelievable work pressures she was facing. We ‘met’ via phone every week and one morning it just became so clear that there wasn’t a business answer, only a spiritual answer.

      We talked for an hour about how much God loves her and she can know God. The conversations continued over the next few months, always about spiritual and Biblical matters.

      A year later she had not only completely recovered, but become very involved in a church in her city; she started studying the Bible regularly and deeply, even launched a volunteer Bible study in her workplace for those interested. Most of the women attending had never read the Bible and over the next few months, they too became transformed and involved for the first time in a church. My dear executive friend eventually resigned to be a stay-at-home Mom and the family was transformed.

      It all started with the courage to love — openly, clearly, firmly. And it transformed me as well in finding my ‘voice’ to share God’s enormous love more, right in the smack middle of what appears as a pretty dry, secular world. Not so–everyone wants to be loved and love more.

  65. Peter Phillips says:

    I appreciate your courage and kindness. It is never too late to acknowledge our responsibility in a situation, to apologize as you did. I think this individual who happened to not have a place of his own, will remember what you did, not so much the money you gave him, etc., but your reaching out to him in Love. It always reaps rewards for all concerned. Thank you for sharing your story!

    Sincerely, Peter

  66. alex says:

    Nina, I had a sort of similar experience once –

    I was going to be working at the home of a friend. They had recently gotten a new dog, a German Shepherd, and this dog had a reputation for being MEAN. The owners were saying how you really couldn’t go near him, he would bite (why did they choose this dog again?) and I was hearing similar stories from others in the neighborhood.

    Before I went to the house for the first time I was thinking about how I could not be afraid of this dog when I arrived. I just didnt want to be afraid of him. Then, when I got there, and saw the fearsome dog, the thought came to me that “this dog really NEEDS someone to show him that they are not afraid of him”. Of course! He needs some structure. And was so cool to think for a moment of what he, the dog needed, instead of thinking about what I needed or what was going to keep me safe.

    When I realized that I would be helping HIM by not being afraid of him, it was very natural to walk right up to him and begin petting him. I got right down with him and snuggled with him. And all the time I was doing that, I was not for a second afraid that he would bite or snap. I was just feeling that it was right to help him see that he was safe, by not being afraid of him. Of course, he showed me nothing but affection and delight. Later on in the day I picked him up (this huge German Shepherd!) and cradled him like a baby. I was so not afraid of him! And he was as docile and calm as could be. The owners were stunned!

    And it was so obviously the power and insight of Love that made it possible.

  67. nina says:

    The neighbors I love aren’t always human.

    Two summers ago, a sizable alligator showed up in my neighbor’s pond. Each morning, he’d hoist his spiky, prehistoric self onto the east lawn to catch the early rays. Each afternoon, he’d doze on the west lawn, stretched eight feet long. The folks who own the pond aren’t here much, so their yard soon became the gator’s private luxury resort.

    But alas. Every summer, a gator shows up. Every summer, a gator gets shot. It had been like that for 15 years. My neighbors aren’t cruel. But they have kids, and there’s a small dog next door. No one’s taking any chances.

    So while my neighbors planned the execution, I headed to the beach to pray. I stopped by the obvious places: Isaiah’s “holy mountain” and some choice MBE quotes. But then . . . this great old spiritual about the “welcome table” started running through my head.

    Soon I could see the vast, heavenly table. A huge crowd happily gorging away. My neighbors. Their kids. The dog next door. ALL the neighborhood dogs. ALL the neighbors — even that cruel one who chased the gator in a golf cart. The gator. Of course the gator, sitting on his spiky tail, reaching for a casserole.

    By the time I got back I was dancing down the beach. “I’m gonna sit at the welcome ta-a-able, see my loving Father, feast on milk and honey, hear them joy-bells ringing, one of these da-a-ays!” Luckily no one was watching.

    The next day, two kind young men pulled up and asked if they could move the gator to a distant pond where he’d be safe. But when they went to catch him . . . the big guy had vanished into thin air. All they found was a tiny three-footer, which they easily caught and loaded into their truck.

    We’ve been through a second summer now with no shootings, and we’re deep into a third. Gators usually turn up by this time if they’re going to turn up at all.

    So here’s what I learned from my crazy dancing prayer. Don’t wait ‘til “one of these days” to sit at the welcome table. Insist that it’s right here, right now . . . and blessings will rain down on ALL our neighbors!

    (The “Welcome Table” tune is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lX-N2s77Baw&feature=related.)

  68. alex says:

    Patty, your comments are so interesting to me. I have been thinking about this very thing recently – and longing to be able to be more useful than just handing over money. I love that you took that stand, and that it did end up being useful.
    it feels true to me that what the world needs is not primarily redistribution of wealth, but spiritual revolution, which naturally provides, and redistributes. I am so grateful for this conversation.

  69. Patty says:

    I was living in downtown Chicago just across from what was then called Grant Park. I was working to love my neighbor 24/7, including many hours as a chaplain at Chicago’s huge correctional facility of what then housed over 50,000 inmates. I gave a lot of thought/prayer to HOW to do the Bible-required loving, and had learned from experience (bigtime) that “sympathy with error” just wouldn’t cut it. Lots of money went down the so-called help-line drain that only made things worse. Those “helped” always ended up being just as dependent as ever, or even more so! As one great humanitarian, M.B.Eddy, observed: that kind of giving was “worse than wasted”.

    Oh yes! I’d been there, done that — way too many times. Gradually I learned to love/help in more substantial ways in line with Eddy’s quote from a Talmudical philosopher: “The noblest charity is to prevent a man from accepting charity; and the best alms are to show and enable a man to dispense with alms.”

    That became my new “job description” and the results have been far more satisfying. For example, when I passed an older woman and two small children standing outside a McDonald’s, she was holding a sign asking for food for the kids. It was so tempting just to invest a few bucks in doing what she asked. But my heightened sense of charity told me NO. Instead, I was led to converse with her to see how I could really help. Turns out she and her daughter had lost their lease and were staying in a family shelter. This gave them a place to stay at night, but they weren’t allowed to remain in the shelter during the day. The grandmother didn’t see how they’d ever be able to get a place of their own again. So I encouraged her to think about how God cared for His children — even the birds had a home. And if she’d be expectant and watchful, the way would open for her to have her own home again, perhaps in surprising ways. This encouragement was just what she needed. And as we ended our neighborly conversation, a customer came out of McDonald’s and gave the two little kids each a sack of french fries and a drink.

    A couple weeks later, I saw the grandmother again. Her face was alight as she explained to me that they had found a place. Now all they needed was $50 to cover some sort of deposit. Ooooo, how tempting it was for me to fork over the $50, but I resisted that temptation because I wanted the woman to be able to demonstrate self-sufficiency in accord with true charity. So, again, I just encouraged her to know that God wouldn’t take her half way. He would supply EVERYTHING she needed. I had told her about the Christian Science Reading Room nearby, and invited her to bring the little kids there when they needed to be out of the shelter. They would able to stay warm and enjoy Bible stories.

    One day she did come into the Reading Room. The dear little kids had sticky hands and faces, so one of the staff members lovingly took them under her wing, helped them get washed up and settled with story books. Meanwhile, grandma and I had a chat about the woman in the Bible whose two sons were to become slaves because she couldn’t pay her debts. I told the grandmother that this experience of being without a home had been a tough one for her, but if she understood that God was supplying all her need, — that she too had lots of oil-type qualities (prayer, inspiration, gentleness) that had value to others — and that she and her daughter would never have to worry that their children might one day end up as slaves to drugs or other form of imprisonment. She was earnest and receptive, and we talked together as dear sisters. Somehow, everything had come together for her and her daughter to lease an apartment, and they were just waiting for the move-in date.

    Just a week or so later, she caught my eye as she was coming out of a store. Because of the traffic, we weren’t able to stop for a visit, but with a big sunny smile, she held up one hand and jiggled it to let me know she had the keys to her new home.

    Paul White’s wonderful approach to loving his neighbor by helping kids get out of gangs, etc. requires “unselfed love”.

  70. nina says:

    Jesus offered the parable of the good Samaritan to explain –- who are these neighbors we’re supposed to love? In his last speech, the day before he was shot, Martin Luther King Jr. focused on that parable. The dangerousness of the setting. The risk the Samaritan took.

    Clearly King was talking about his own life –- his own risk. Observers later said he was already gazing into the great beyond. You can hear it at the end of the speech. You can see it in photos taken that day. http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/king/c1.html

    So check out Dr. King’s take on the good Samaritan, which begins at about 9:00 in Part 1 below, and continues into Part 2. And don’t miss the end of the speech, about 8:45 in Part 2 (oops, after the speech ends at 9:50 someone tacked on the end of a different speech). Actually, the whole thing deserves a listen!

    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2EnnclLMX4

    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySGDMdQaDA0&feature=related

  71. Kim Korinek says:

    I love the stories and examples of how people live by the commandment Love thy neighbor as thyself. I was thinking how that would look in community with others.

    If we loved one another as ourselves…..

    …we would be more aware of our actions’ impact on the future.
    …we would think in terms of us, not me.
    …we would think in terms of what is good for the future, not immediate gratification for right now.
    …we would be more thoughtful about the things we buy and how they are made, supporting fair trade practices.
    …we would develop compassion as a way to see the world.
    …we would be more patient with ideas and processes that take more time, but are more environmentally friendly.
    …we would use kindness as a currency – perhaps buying less, saving more and sharing more frequently.
    …we would understand that everyone has a backyard, and be careful where we throw our garbage.
    …we would lose a sense of pride in possessions, and find more joy in teamwork.

    I have seen this compassionate stewardship at work – loving one’s neighbor as oneself – and it works beautifully! I have been impresed by a small mountain town in Costa Rica that attracts a surprising number of visitors every year – Monteverde. It is the place where one of my sons lived for a year.

    It was founded by Quakers in the 50s and is home to many Costa Ricans, educators and scientists, Quakers, and a steady stream of eco-tourists. The Quakers established several industries and institutions with a shared community approach. As they developed their community, they asked questions like “Is this action good for the community?” “Does this enhance or detract from the natural resources already here? Are we giving credit and honor to those who have lived here before us?” The answers to those types of questions have helped to form the groups and industries that are running today.

    I talked with one of the local residents who is one of the founding women of a rural women’s cooperative and there I found the same kind of spirit – putting the community’s well being above personal gain. Those who founded the cooperative started out by looking at how they could better empower women – many of whom had to stay at home.

    Their leading questions in establishing the co-op were “How can we empower the women here – thus strengthen the families and the community?” “What skills do they have that can benefit them and benefit the community?” The answers to those questions resulted in the development of the cooperative in which making a profit is subservient to the larger goal of the community’s well–being. (This is one of the longest running cooperatives in the country.)

    Loving your neighbor as yourself. It works here on a large scale. The individual is not absorbed, but is empowered. The community is strengthened by the long term commitment of caring for one another and caring for the earth.

    In short, the equation is: love for one another in the short term + care and compassion = empowered people and strong communities and love in the long term.

    • itsaboutgood says:

      Hi Kim,
      I love what you shared here. It really expands the idea of love in a way that blesses all.

      I think love is a sort of confusing term these days. Love seems to mean physical affection or grandiose acts of heroism that garner lots of media attention. But as you point out, it’s the “little” love that really benefits us all in big ways.

      The awareness love. The wisdom love. The pure, selfless love. The simple love. The quiet love.

      Thanks for bringing that to the front!

      :)

  72. diana says:

    thanks Paul for writing and thanks for your care of your “neighbor”. Your heart is in the right place and God will tell you how to proceed next time too!

  73. Amy says:

    I read this great article in People magazine (June 4, 2012) about a doctor (Russell Dohner) who only charges $5 a visit to his patients…same price that he’s charged since the 70′s. He said, “There are quite a few people who come to see me because they can’t afford anybody else. I can help.” One of his patients said, “Dr. Dohner works for his patients, and for love.”

    “He’s delivered 3,400 babies, works seven days a week and hasn’t taken a vacation in 57 years. Oh, and he doesn’t take insurance.”

    There’s more information about this loving man here: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/40661756/ns/today-today_news/t/meet-small-town-doc-whos-charged-visit-years/#.T-ere89HI7A

    Imagine if we all took our gifts and used them as generously as this man? It’s nice to think about….

  74. Carlos says:

    A friend of mine recently shared some personal insight she received on this radical act as she drove and prayed to meet family members out of town. She was focusing on Jesus’ reduction of the commandments to 1)loving God above all else, and 2) loving your neighbor as yourself.

    In that drive it became so clear to her that if you love God, Love itself, above all else, then you know nothing but love… and hence you yourself are purely an expression of love. From this it follows that loving your neighbor as yourself means loving your neighbor as the expression of love itself. Rather than two people sharing love, she was seeing this command as Love itself seeing its creation and rejoicing in it.

    A few minutes after, she got a call from someone needed prayerful support for a tough situation she was facing. My friend simply shared what she was learning on her drive, and it turned out to be exactly what the caller needed. It seems to me my friend, rather than looking for a neighbor to love, was looking for Love itself and found it… and in return a neighbor found her.

    I have faced a number of situations recently that have forced me to think deeper about what love really is. While the way I’ve expressed love in the past seemed perfectly appropriate and fulfilling, it seems that I’m being called to understand love from a higher perspective… one in which love loves simply because it is love, and it can’t help but to do just that. And I’ve noticed that the more I’ve focused on understanding what love is (realizing that my previous definition of love was not everything I thought it was) opportunities present themselves for me to naturally express that higher sense of love.

    I’m trying to learn to love my neighbor as myself, as the expression of love itself, in which there is no fear, pity, hessitation, uncertainty, or confusion. One excercise that has helped me make progress has been to analyze my personal definition of love and then ask myself, “does it make sense for that to be a definition of God?” If not, then there’s an even higher definition waiting to be discovered and expressed.

  75. LindaH says:

    I am part of an informal church group called Living Love, which draws people from all over the Los Angeles area. Since the beginning of the year, the leadership team for Living Love has been meeting weekly with the intent of putting God at the center of our gatherings and our lives. While together, we share the Scriptures, books, other inspiring literature, and how they relate to our spiritual journeys. We have become a tight-knit faith community that loves and supports each other in prayer and daily life.

    Recently our tight-knit group started having our weekly meetings at a park (instead of someone’s home). Our visit to the park last week was amazing because in many ways it felt reminiscent of the Day of Pentecost described in the book of Acts in the Bible — when we left the park that day, we felt of one accord with all those around us!

    As part of our group was waiting in the parking lot for the others to arrive, a young man riding a bicycle approached us with a huge smile on his face. As he beamed from ear to ear, he gave us the most loving greeting I’ve ever received: “You are such beautiful people!” As a group of Caucasians residing in a Latino neighborhood, sometimes it feels like we stand out. But all those seeming differences melted away in an instant.

    As I mentioned earlier, we will often share and discuss books that we’ve been reading. I had just finished reading a book and wanted to share excerpts with our little group. The book is called: “Tattoos on the Heart” by Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest who founded Homeboy Industries in downtown Los Angeles. A non-profit group that provides hope, training, and jobs to formerly gang-involved and imprisoned men and women. The “radical acts” of Father Greg are well illustrated in the touching and inspiring stories he describes in his book.

    Well…as I was reading excerpts from “Tattoos on the Heart”, the young man (Jose´) who had greeted us when we first arrived at the park came up and asked if he could read us a poem he had written. We, of course, responded enthusiastically “Yes!” As Jose´ was preparing to read us his poem from his well-used iPad (with a cracked monitor), he repositioned himself to stand a little taller, cleared his throat seeming a little nervous that he was about to share something he had created with a group of complete strangers. Although some of the meaning of Jose´s poem escaped us, we nonetheless praised him for his creative endeavor. Soon afterward we invited Jose´ to join us for lunch and our discussion. He seemed sincerely touched we wanted him to join us.

    Before going back to reading excerpts from “Tattoos on the Heart”, we asked Jose´ if he was at all familiar with Homeboy Industries and Father Greg. It turns out Jose´s Uncle was previously a gang member who had decided to change his life for the better and got a job with Homeboy Industries and knew Father Greg personally. We asked Jose´ if gang life was ever a draw for him. He replied rather matter-of-fact, “No, life outside of a gang is just too good.” Jose´ further commented that although he hasn’t been a part of a gang, some of the friends he hangs out with are in gangs.

    The story I read that day when Jose´ was present was about Father Greg and three men from Homeboy Industries attending dinner at the White House. It’s an amusing story due to the many mishaps leading up to and during the dinner. It was a story we could laugh together because it didn’t matter what cultural or socio-economic background we came from, we all could relate to the nervousness one would feel visiting the White House for the first time. In not too long, our laughter gave way to tears because we each felt touched to the very core by the end of the story….

    Father Greg’s story ends by describing the airplane trip home following the White House dinner. One of the homeboys went to use the restroom mid-flight and got into a long conversation with one of the flight attendants. When he came back to his seat, he was a little embarrassed because the woman had begun to cry. So Father Greg, wants to know what had happened.

    “Weellll, Alex (the homeboy) begins, ‘She saw my Homeboy Industries shirt and tattoos and, weellll, she started to ask me a gaaaanng a’ questions, so…’
    He pauses with a whiff of embarassment. ‘So I gave her a tour of the office.’
    At 34,000 feet, Alex walks this woman through our office. He introduces her to our job developers, explains our release program, and hands her goggles to watch tattoos being removed.
    ‘And I told her that last night we made history,’ he says with brimming excitement.
    ‘For the first time in the history of this country, three gang members walked into the White House. We had dinner there…I told her the food tasted nasty.’
    He pauses and gets still.
    ‘And she cried.’
    I get still myself.
    ‘Well, whadda ‘spect? She just caught a glimpse of ya. She saw that you are somebody. She recognized you…as the shape of God’s heart. Sometimes people cry when they see that.’
    Suddenly, kinship — two souls feeling their worth, flight attendant, gang member, 34,000 feet — nothing separating them. Exactly what God had in mind.”

    At that moment in the park we too experienced souls feeling their worth…with nothing separating us…exactly what God had in mind!

    As we were departing that day, one of my Living Love friends called out to Jose´ across from the park, “Jose´, you are a beautiful person!” Jose´ paused, pointed at himself, got a big smile on his face, and proceeded to do spinning jumps of joy as he ran off.

    You just can’t put words to the sense of love and kinship we felt that day — it’s the kind of love that heals not just individuals, but entire communities!

  76. Veronica says:

    First, Paul–in response to your question, I think you were loving your neighbor. I am pretty sure that your final question is one many people have when they give to someone underhoused. We question what are they going to do with it, or if they have a story of hardship we wonder if that is all a front and we have been duped. I think that it doesn’t matter. Whenever we give, whenever we help with the intention of helping out of a place of love and not guilt, and sometimes that is pretty hard distinguish, then it doesn’t matter what happens after that and any thought that comes into tell you otherwise is trying to taint your actions. Don’t let it.

    Also, I am sure that there are people that we have loaned money to in the past, people we consider friends, who completely forget about it. Why do we hold “strangers” more accountable because we feel they owe us something for our good deed. I think we love and let love. It is not ours to decide what happens once we have taken a loving action, the action is already complete.

    I have also tried to stop saying “sorry” and averting my eyes when someone is asking me for money on the street. I have now taken to saying “God bless” or “Much love” and smiling, looking that person in the eye, looking at their face, seeing them, if even for a moment.

    This is neighborly. If a little kid was selling lemonade on the street and we couldnt buy any, we wouldnt dart away nervously. We would graciously say with a grin,”not today but good luck! Why not have the same disposition to anyone we encounter on the street!

    • Amy says:

      I like what you write, Veronica.

      A long time ago I realized that I didn’t look at the “underhoused” (love that!) in the same way I looked at everyone else. I did the whole averting thing or pity thing. And ever since I’ve worked at seeing them the way they are spiritually but also as human beings who have a sense of dignity despite appearances and I try to honor that.

      Sometimes I do give money. I let God guide me. Once a friend and were walking down the street and she gave a little bit of cash to someone who seemed drunk to me. I was surprised and said something about it. She said, my only responsibility is how I treat people. How he deals with the gift is his responsibility. And she also made it clear that she let God direct her and she didn’t give to everyone. That’s been my model ever since. I can’t use someone else’s behavior as an excuse not to give (though I do know that money isn’t always the best solution).

  77. Amy says:

    Love your stories Jean. Keep them coming!

  78. Jean says:

    Thanks for those helpful stories. I’m committing to this Radical Act this summer. Will try & do it 24/7 (for me that’s the hard part) and let you know how I get on.

    Paul’s story reminds me of Jess. I live in the university city of Oxford and homeless people sit on the corner near church. They are usually guys but on Wednesday nights Jess appeared there a few years ago. She was in her 20s & seeing her made me think of one of my dearest friends of the same age – but my friend had a job, had been to university etc and had quite a different life. I decided to pray to support her so that she was not vulnerable. The idea came to offer her a hot chocolate and a cookie which she accepted. She was sitting outside a restaurant but I was guided to buy the drink & cookie at G&Ds, a trendy ice cream parlour around the corner. I paid for the drink & cookie & told them that Jess would come and collect them herself. Then I told Jess that it was like God’s love. It’s there for you – all you have to do is claim it. This went on for a while. I often invited her to church and also to a Christian Science Lecture. She promised me faithfully that she’d attend the lecture but didn’t. She hadn’t collected enough money that nignt to leave the pavement she told me later. Then Jess disappeared. A few months later a member at church said he had a message for me from Jess. She wanted me to know that she wouldn’t be on the pavement any more as she had enrolled to do a degree at Oxford Brookes University.

    On Sunday Kevin is sometimes at that spot. He sells the “Big Issue” for £2.50 which I buy, and I give him a CS Sentinel, or Monitor in return. This has been going on for a while. One day I didn’t have the full price and he said I could owe him until next time. Of course I paid my 30p debt. Today he assured me, “I’ll read this. I’m a spiritual person! You can bring one for me every week. If you don’t see me here – just leave it with them inside…(pointing to restaurant). Tell them it’s for Kevin.” So here we have someone requesting Christian Science lit. every week. Very special.

    Will be in touch.

  79. Alex says:

    Just found this nice video. The song is called “God Is Not A White Man”, and expresses a pretty simple idea about love. It has a few moments where it gets just a little political, but mostly it’s great!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WybvhRu9KU&feature=share

  80. paul boy says:

    How do you know when you really love someone?

    How do you know when “like” has really become “love”, in any kind of relationship: friends or significant-others, as well as “neighbors”.

    I apply the “Pizza Test.”

    It’s an example I have much first-hand familiarity with.

    Let’s say my wife and I had pizza the night before, and there’s one piece left over in the refrigerator that we’ve both been dreaming about all day at work.

    That evening, we both happen to pull into our driveway together. Smiling at each other, but saying nothing and trying to appear nonchalant, we both start walking faster-Faster- FASTER! toward our home’s front door. Being a little bigger and quicker (and ok, MAYBE I hip-checked her going around the corner), I reach the fridge first, and remove the remaining pizza slice. My wife’s face falls as she says sadly, “I wanted that piece; I thought about it all day.”

    Here’s the test of true love.

    If I’m just kind of “liking” my wife that day, I’d say: “Yes, I was thinking of that pizza, also. Next time you need to move a little faster.”

    But if I’m truly loving her, I’d say: “Well of course you can have it, honey. Do you want it hot or cold?”

    In explaining one of the reasons why Jesus was able to do such incredible Radical Acts, Mary Baker Eddy said that he was ALWAYS expressing his divinely loving identity, even in the smallest details of life. (Misc. 166).

    I find that every time I sacrifice something for my “neighbor” or anyone else (my favorite definition of Love) – even something as insignificant as a slice of cold pizza, it purges my selfishness, strengthens my heart to take ever stronger loving steps in the future, and leaves me feeling more satisfied than keeping something for myself ever could.

  81. Hi all,

    I wanted to share with you all a small way that I’ve been loving my neighbor as myself. This post will be long, and I apologize in advance, however, if you have the time I hope it’s a valuable read. Following the first couple paragraphs I’ve copied a jounral article I wrote this evening about a case I’ve been working. It’s not so spiritual in writing but you’ll see behind it the prayer and “radical thinking” that I feel is so important for all of us. I feel like Christ gives us beautiful insight into seemingly conflicted situations. It’s like we have a lighthouse at all times in Christ.

    Along the same idea of a guiding light I think the concept of Christ as a foundation is also equally poignant. I love to think about one of the definitions of “radical” in webster’s dictionary. It always made me uncomfortable to think of “radical reliance…” in regard to Christian Science. I always felt like it was extreme and throughout my life I’ve tried to strive for balance. I didn’t want to feel like Christian Science was blind or cultish when often, growing up, I felt that way. I was super different from those around me because I didn’t take medicine and I believed in God for healing. But then, the defition of radical was shown to me: “of, relating to or proceeding from a root”. Radical means fundamental, not crazy. It means foundational not fleeting. It means grounded not unfounded. :)

    So yes, here’s the jounral entry. I hope that through this article you understand why my new orgainzation, Foster Care India, is needed here and why I’m doing the work I’m doing…

    With Love,
    Ian

    Title: Why Foster Care India’s work is timely and needed.

    As many of you know, I’ve spent the past 7+ year advocating for foster and adopted families. I’ve worked hard to reunite families and centered my work on finding permanency for children. Because of this, it might be tough for you to imagine why today, at 5pm I unclasped a 3 year’s hands from his grandfather’s clothes and handed him to the caretakers at the Mother Theresa orphanage.

    If you have 10 minutes to read this short article, please give it your all. I hope that when you are done you have a deeply touching glimpse of the systemic issues we are facing here in Rajasthan when it comes to child welfare.

    Here’s the story:

    A few weeks ago a friend informed me about a grandfather who was caring for his two grandchildren ages 1 and 3. The grandfather lives in a village about 40km outside of Udaipur. The area is remote and lacking in access to health care, welfare initiatives and livelihood opportunities.
    The grandfather has been caring for these two children since the death of his son 12 months ago. After his son’s death the children’s mother left for another marriage. The grandfather, a day laborer, is without any family support including not having a wife due to her leaving many years earlier. He has no source of income and his ration card is of the lowest economic category.

    When I met the children, the picture in front of me was bleak. The children’s hair showed protein deficiency and the younger child’s stomach showed of mal-nutrition. However, the strength of the bond between the grandfather and his grandchildren was evident and real. As we spoke to the grandfather it became clear that he was exhausted. His care of the children 24/7 did not allow him to work and caused huge tension due to his strong desire to give them the best care possible and his inability to do so. His main concern was about his own death or sickness. You see, in village areas, due to lack of resources and access to health care, sometimes sickness can quickly result in death. He explained to us that he constantly worried about his inability to care for the children. I volunteered my help.

    As we sat outside his small mud hut room we discussed an action plan. I promised to look into the government schemes that existed and also pursue options for temporary care of the children until he could position himself to care for them himself. His strengths, throughout our interactions, were clear: he loved the children, he was trying his hardest and he was realistic about his abilities. He promised to meet me in Udaipur two days later.

    I spent the following day talking to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) members, Childline professionals and the Social Welfare Office. All suggested that I bring the grandfather and his children to a government CWC meeting that is held every week to discuss cases. They explained the schemes to me but realistically I knew that the schemes would give Rs. 600/700 per day per child if he could prove the children were enrolled in school. Since no working nursery schools exist near him, this was impossibility. The CWC explained that they had the ability to take an immediate decision in the meeting and place the children in the Mother Theresa orphanage. I asked to see the orphanage and was granted special permission. The orphanage was clean, safe and the care takers seemed to be in control and professional.

    Here is where the situation gets very difficult. I’ll write as if I’m speaking to you directly:

    What right do I have to even have a part of this decision in any way? I’m new to India and am learning culture. What is most important here? In my past work it is clear that the children’s health and keeping the family together are the most important parts of social work. Yet in this case they seem to conflict. If the grandfather lived in a urban area MAYBE I could find some services for him. However, in the rural area there is literally nothing and due to the remoteness of his location engaging him with services is almost impossible. But as I walk through this orphanage with echocy walls and large hallways I can’t help but feel like it’s no life for a child. I feel even more like family settings and community environment is a must for children. It’s like a tug of war inside of my head, but at the end of the day I need to use my skills in direct practice work and help secure safety for these children.

    So now we fast forward to this morning. (07/06/2012) After waiting for 2 ½ hours the grandfather arrived with his children. I arranged some food and found a comfortable place; we sat down and through some friends, I asked him the tough questions. What did he want to do? He explained that he could not take care of the children and wanted them to be taken care of in an orphanage. We then attended a meeting at the CWC where he sat before the officials and explained his situation. All my formal social work skills just did not work in this situation. Because of the remote area and the grandfather’s complete lack of support, a list of action steps or a “program” just wouldn’t be feasible.

    During this entire I process I focused on the 3 year old boy’s eyes. I put myself in his place, which wasn’t difficult to do, and I thought about what might be going through his mind. Because of my inability to speak Mewari (the local language and the only language he knows) I had to have others do the normal social work things I would do. I wanted to prepare him for what might happen. I wanted to explain to him that he was required to look out for his little sister and that he must be strong to understand that his grandfather was doing what he felt was best for them, a lot for a 3 year old to handle right? Yet in my work I’ve found that honestly in a therapeutic way is healing. But as I pried his fingers from his grandfather’s dohti I couldn’t help hoping that I was facilitating the right decision.

    So I’ll start wrapping up this story. If you understand India, you know that is was a miracle that all the paperwork and proceedings were completed in one day. At 5pm I brought the children to the orphanage where the grandfather again used his thumb print (because he is not literate) to attest that he wanted to children to live there. When the orphanage caretakers refused to take the older boy and tried to split up the siblings, I was forceful and demanding. Siblings do not get split up. Eventually I won the battle. As we dropped the grandfather at the bus we could see the relief on his face. He bowed to us and thanked us and headed back to his small room 40km outside of Udaipur.

    Over the next months I’ll facilitate visits to the children. I designed all the paperwork so that this arrangement is temporary for 4 months while we try to implement services and help the grandfather position myself to care for the children. It will be interesting to see how much he visits the children. He spoke of adoption during the day and perhaps if we can arrange an open adoption it could be best for everyone. We’ll see, no decisions should be made now.

    But as I sit in front of my computer I can’t help but feel a strong sense of urgency to get Foster Care India in operation. Though I’ll do my best to ground myself and move forward with purpose, caution and determination, I am overwhelmed at the systemic problems we faced today. Honestly, there is no place for children to go. The CWC and government, in my option, are actually working to care for children under the existing infrastructure. However, due to the corruption at different levels of administration and due to the sheer number of children needing help, the options are limited to say the least.

    As I explained this entire situation to a friend this evening, she asked “what were the alternatives?” The answer is sadly, “nothing”. Time to get to work…

    • samuela orth-moore says:

      Dear Ian,

      My heart and love go out to you. I have been in similar yet different situations during my 20 or so years in Africa. I understand the extreme situations you are faced with, and the very tough decisions that have to be made. I also know that the love you expressed by following up with this grandfather and with these two precious children was divinely guided and God was right in the midst of you all and ultimately making the decisions. As you, the grandfather, and the children go forward, we can pray, watch and know that God is the divine Parent. It might not all look like what we might personally picture or desire but God’s plan is in operation and His loving, guiding hand is leading everyone in the process. Blessings will abound and your prayers and Love expressed speak volumes.

      Thank you for listening to the Father and for being a “radical actor”.

      Blessings,
      Sam Orth-Moore

      • Julia Wade says:

        Hi Ian, I am slowly working my way through all the incredible stories, thoughts and healings here. I am so touched by your story, but more than anything, by your spiritual effort and commitment to live and effect radical change in a most challenging part of the world. Thank you for your inspiration, courage and spiritual perseverance.

        I love what Samuela says in her comment that “It might not all look like what we might personally picture or desire but God’s plan is in operation and His loving, guiding hand is leading everyone in the process.” God’s plan is the guiding, loving Principle of all of our affairs – the world over. Thank you for what you are doing.

  82. Samuela Orth-Moore says:

    I think it was very loving what you decided to do, Paul, and sounds as if it was divinely directed. I also struggle with what is the right response sometimes to those in extreme need, especially as an American living in Africa. I do feel you have to pray and ACT. One angel message that recently came to me was this: “Just like you pray each day that God sends you the cases you can handle, God also sends into your experience those you can help in general.” If I am praying each day in this way then I know those people in need that come into my experience have been led there by God. I then pray about what is the right response in each situation and God always supplies the answer.Mrs Eddy says we can never be “impoverished” in being generous and that is with love and assistance. And she also says that Christian Scientists are “humanitarians”. Recently I looked up that word “humanitarian” in the JSH-Online search. What I found was very interesting. I would highly recommend looking that word up on JSH-Online. Its pretty cool to see how others have dealt with this question over the years.

  83. Jeanne says:

    Thank you for your great and inspiring stories!=)Sharing this beautiful gift, Christian Science, with others is a great expression of Love. I love the church-in-the-park!

    I also love the commandment: Love your neighbour as yourself. I just recently learned a bit more about the last part of the commandment, loving myself. Not in the way of loving my human personality, but loving me as God’s child. When I learned to accept that God loves me, what felt like a heavy weight was lifted from my shoulders. I suddently felt so free and happy. Starting to love myself more helped me in a lot of ways. For example I lost the pimples and the weight I always wanted to lose. But actually that wasn’t important. More important was that it just didn’t have any power over me anymore. I just knew that, ‘I am beautiful because I’m God’s reflection and nothing can change that, even if everyone and every mirror around me wants to convince me of the opposite.’

    Loving myself also helped me to love my neighbours more. Seeing myself as a loved child of God helped me to also see the people around me as God’s loved children. I stopped more and more criticising other people because I stopped more and more criticising myself. I’m really grateful for that. It’s easier for me now to react to hate with love, even though I’m still learning so much more about that!! =)

    • Tim says:

      Church-in-the-park is wonderful, isn’t it! I’d love to try in with more than just me if that worked out.

      Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful thoughts on loving yourself. It’s something I’ve often struggled with (particularly the part you mentioned about not wanting to love my own personality), but what you’ve shared on the topic has got me thinking: I’m engaged to this wonderful girl but I keep getting tricked into having really critical thoughts towards her that seem to be my own, which is of course alarming because you can’t feel critical and loving at the same time and I only ever want to be loving and tender and kind towards her and love her unconditionally. I really want to be 100% free from these thoughts and am actually making a lot of progress towards this but what you’ve shared has got me thinking that loving myself is a really important part of completing this healing. I’m going to get back to work on it now.

      Thank you, Jeanne. It’s wonderful the way you’ve really demonstrated this and I’m will no doubt continue to!

  84. paul boy says:

    Early on a Sunday morning, and what a great day for loving your neighbor! In my neighborhood this morning, everyone was inside nice homes with their families, enjoying each other’s company. No one in sight. But a short drive across town to my church-in-the-park, and it was filled with activity: the homelesss, addicts, the mentally ill, all wandering around trying to find peace and home. I chose a picnic table next to two young musicians who were trying out different original compositions for the flute and guitar. I put a Bible and S&H on the table in plain view, sat silently smiling at passersby, and proceeded to offer prayers “exclusively and collectively” for my park “congregation” (Manual pg. 42). As I sat there knowing spiritual counter facts for all that I was observing, one of the musicians came up asked to use my phone. He was dirty, possibly under the influence, and looked like he could run faster than I could with my phone, but hey – this IS my brother, right? So I let him use it. Finishing his call, he said he was trying to find out where his disability check was. I asked why he was on disability, and he poured out his heart about a lifetime of mental health issues, medications he didn’t like taking, family problems,a life going nowhere, etc. I was so grateful to be able to share two healings I’d been involved in regarding bi-polar disorder and violently psychotic behavior. He said he was an artist, and we agreed about the importance of an artist holding a beautiful picture in thought as he works on a new piece. Reading some parts of S&H, I explained how on a different level, it’s critically important to hold a God-perspective: a spiritual, perfect, unbroken and undefiled picture of ourselves in thought, and when we do, the law of God overrules the distorted images that we call our “messed up life”, and they give way to higher, holier views of ourselves and others. He took a copy of S&H with my name, phone number, and an offer to pray for – or help him in any way I could, any time. “Millions of unprejudiced minds…simple seekers for Truth…(and) weary wanderers are in ALL our parks every Sunday morning (and every other day). Whenever I’m tempted to choose quiet, comfortable study sessions in my home, instead of going to places like my church-in-the-park, I remind myself that Jesus said, “GO ye into all the world…”; he didn’t say, “SIT ye, and wait for all the world to come to you.” It becomes the most thrilling, uplifting, and FUN church experience you could ever ask for.

  85. paul boy says:

    A friend of mine recently posted a well-publicized blog about loving your neighbor. She told about seeing someone in distress pass by her in public, and how she’d taken the time to pray silently for this person. She didn’t approach the person in any way; she just prayed. Based on her blog, my friend was not only pleased with her response, but recommended it to others.

    I read this, and my first response was ‘Why would you recommend ‘…pass(ing) by on the other side of the road,’ and not offering direct help to this person in need, in ADDITION to – and as the RESULT of your prayers?” “Surely,” I thought, “if this had been YOUR sister, brother, or even local neighbor, you would NOT have settled for simply fixing your own THOUGHT. You would have used that spiritually uplifted thought to impel you to take ACTION.”

    And my friend’s oversight so troubled me, that it jogged my own memory from two days previous. I’d been hurrying into a local store to buy some clothes. A young man, alone, on crutches, and with a missing leg, was laboriously walking into the store ahead of me. Like my friend, I immediately prayed silently for this man. And I, too, finished my prayers, feeling self-satisfied. I finished my prayers just in time to squeeze past the man, slip through the store entrance ahead of him, and head off to do my own shopping. If that man had been someone I knew (and really cared about), I would have asked him if he needed help with his shopping. At the least, I would have acknowledged him and said “hello.” But I clearly did NOT see this man as someone I truly cared about…which is why I did nothing.

    Praying – without acting on it, my friend and I both certainly thought we did our best. But did we really do what Jesus required of his followers? Did we do what we would have wanted someone else to have done for us?

  86. Ann says:

    Paul -
    There is a huge difference (I think) between loving your neighbor as yourself and “answering every call” from your neighbor – Between loving God’s idea who is your neighbor, and loving a mortal who is a neighbor because he’s a child of God, too. The first call to loving our neighbor as ourself, is to see that every one is our neighbor and that this is true not because we’re all physical neighbors in this human experience and growth, but because we are all ideas and children of God that are all cared for by God. There’s a deeper sense of Love when it’s mixed with its complement, Principle. First off, God loves, we are loving, but we don’t do the action itself for being omni-action, God, good, is all action. When you were threatening the man for attempting to steal your friend’s helmet, you didn’t love him as an idea of God nor did you love him by teaching him the greater lesson Jesus would have. Many times, Jesus didn’t heal, for each time he did he mentioned words similar to “Go and sin no more” – He healed the receptive heart that was ready and yearning not just for warmth and love, but for the principle of seeing their own selves as your neighbor, as God’s idea and free from “being lower” (in terms of the homeless man, for other “neighbors” the lesson will be sensitive to each individual case). But then you possibly went the opposite extreme when you gave him the $50. (Only God can really tell you if some action is living in accordance with loving your neighbor – for remember, God is the only action there really is so 1) you don’t need to worry about “how can I express this?” or “am I doing this right?” and 2) One can never really know a particular case, but God will unfold actions that are “yours” to rightfully demonstrate this radical act.) But it is possible it could have been wrong to just give him a fish, instead of teaching him to fish. Remember Peter and John at the gate with the man on that street (in this case, a crippled)? They didn’t give him gold nor silver, but they did give him the most precious gift, one that is priceless: healing. It’s possible that what would have been loving your neighbor in that situation was simply talking with him and helping him see the reason why he is your neighbor – the fact that he is free from his past and particular actions he has taken. One thing that is important to know, though, since we are still human, is that we always perform our highest sense of right (as you proved by going back to the homeless man). Trials are proofs of God’s care because we learn more each moment and thus are ready for Him to apply more through us. 

    • Deanna says:

      Paul,

      Thank you for sharing your heart felt story. Loving you neighbor is just that – loving your neighbor. What you offered the homeless man was love and that is all that is asked of you. What happens next is between the homeless man and God. You may not see the results, but love always has a positive response because it’s root is from God. You can know it and expect it. Don’t second guess yourself; you acted on what you felt was right in the moment. It seems like so much more than a $50 experience. God will direct your every action.

      Peace and joy,
      Deanna

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