Spirituality, I believe, constitutes the essential nature of each of us. But our individual spiritual journeys are of course unique, since no two people have the same experience. We all have different tales to tell. Our life stories include lessons learned in both good times and tough times—the inspiration of effortless moments as well as the hard-won insights of struggle. As Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Progress is born of experience.” [i]
Growing up, I learned a lot from watching the examples my parents and grandmother set. Through their daily lives, Mom and Dad illustrated so many lessons that have stayed with me over the years, particularly the importance of serving one’s community. My grandmother, a Christian Science practitioner, was also a big influence. She taught me much about the value of maintaining a spiritual perspective.
I carried what I learned from them into adulthood and had many opportunities to apply it to my family life and career. At various points in my early career, I co-managed a family business, taught high school, hosted a PBS television talk-show on current affairs, worked for the State Department, and was an activist in the prevention of child abuse and neglect. I was also the mother of three boys. Life had its usual ups and downs during those years, but overall, I can say, things were good.
Then suddenly my life seemed to take a turn for the worse. One problem led to another, to the point where I began to lose confidence in what I knew spiritually. Where was God in all this? I’d almost begun to believe that God had abandoned me.
A turning point
One morning, after dropping our boys off at school, I was driving through an intersection that crossed a major highway when I was hit broadside by a car that had run a red light.
Emergency crews worked to extract me from the wreckage. During this 45-minute process, I was in and out of consciousness. But in lucid moments, I prayed. Alone in my car, I instinctively turned to God for help. I leaned with all my heart on the Divine. It was all I could do.
Rushed to a nearby hospital, I was examined by a team of ER doctors. The prognosis was that the internal injuries were so severe, I probably wouldn’t survive. From experience, I knew that trusting God for healing was a safe and sure approach. My husband contacted a Christian Science practitioner for me, and I was taken home by ambulance.
For several days, I couldn’t move and at times the pain was intense. I continued to pray with spiritual ideas I’d learned from the Bible and from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. As I became stronger in my spiritual convictions, I experienced greater peace and less pain.
I began to feel closer to God than I’d ever felt before. I took refuge in the strength of God as Father, and rested in the tenderness of God as Mother. I understood better how intimate is the bond with our Creator—it’s a holy connectedness that’s forever intact, an eternal union of pure, unconditional love.
Through prayer, a gentle physical restoration began to take place. The spiritual transformation of my thought brought about adjustments in my body. Soon I was able to stand and walk, and in a few weeks I was driving the boys to school again and caring for my family.
This healing didn’t leave me where it found me. It changed the course of my whole life.[ii]
Healing and teaching others to heal
Shortly after this healing, I started receiving requests from others who wanted prayer-based treatment. Helping them was a profound joy and privilege for me, and soon I was fully engaged as a Christian Science practitioner.
Three years later, I also became an authorized teacher of Christian Science. I wanted to help individuals learn how to practice this system of healing for themselves and others.
In 1990 I was elected to the Christian Science Board of Directors. The Board oversees the global publishing and distribution of the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, including Science and Health. It’s also responsible for transacting the business of The First Church of Christ, Scientist.
On behalf of the Board, I was invited to speak at conferences and events for business executives, academics, scientific researchers, healthcare professionals, theologians, government officials, and the press. There were also frequent media interviews, including with The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, and CNN’s Larry King Live. The topics were primarily society’s deep and growing interest in spirituality, particularly spiritual approaches to healthcare, and the healing ideas of Christian Science.
I was also privileged to serve as the first President of The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity.
In 2004 I resigned my positions in order to devote all my time and energy to healing, teaching, and mentoring. For me, there’s no greater joy than helping someone to discover their divine right to freedom, to learn that no matter what they face—be it a physical problem, a relationship issue, a financial or career challenge—they have what’s needed spiritually to overcome that difficulty.
Public speaking engagements
As a practitioner and teacher of Christian Science and Founding Trustee of the Mary Baker Eddy Library, I have been appointed to the Christian Science Board of Lectureship to speak to medical and healthcare professionals about spiritual healing and specifically the practice of Christian Science on self-healthcare. Since I served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School’s symposium ‘Spirituality & Healing in Medicine’ (eight years), I have continued to consult with doctors and nurses seeking to better understand the relationship between spirituality, consciousness, and healthcare. These speaking events will be constructive opportunities to dialogue with other healers about the benefits of a spiritual practice for them and their patients.
We all have inherent spiritual understanding. It’s natural to each of us. We can experience the transformation, healing, and daily blessings that come with living our spirituality.
[i] Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, 296:4.
[ii] On the Resources page, you can find a fuller account of this healing that was included in my 2002 talk at Harvard Medical School’s symposium “Spirituality & Healing in Medicine.” I served on the faculty of this annual symposium from 1995 to 2002.
Copyright 2014 Virginia Harris, CSB