It was a great opportunity. A friend had flown up to Boston on his private plane, and offered me a seat for his return to Florida. I had wanted to see my sister and brother-in-law in their new home, and this would give me a chance to spend time on the beach with them and their new puppy. And I had a way to get back home, as my brother-in-law offered me the use of his motorcycle for my return trip.
Because it was a small plane and weight was an issue, I had to pack light. I took almost no clothes, and concentrated on the camping and riding gear I’d need for the ride home.
The flight was great and I enjoyed some warm Florida days before I mounted the motorcycle and began the return trip north.
On the second day, I was in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. It was mid-April, and at that altitude, it got cold at night. I realized—too late—that packing light had left me with a sleeping bag that wasn’t heavy enough for the conditions. I struggled to stay warm.
In the morning, my throat was so sore I couldn’t swallow.
I couldn’t believe I had allowed this to happen. But as I began to ride that morning, I remembered a sentence I’d read the previous evening. It meant little to me then, but in the morning I remembered it clearly. It’s from Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy: “If your patient believes in taking cold, mentally convince him that matter cannot take cold, and that thought governs this liability.”
As I rode, that sentence reverberated in my thought. For many years I’ve been aware of the mental nature of reality. I’ve caught unmistakable glimpses of the fact that God is all good, and that my relationship to Him is eternal and unbreakable. I knew that every bodily ailment can be permanently and quickly healed through prayer. So, heading into the wind that morning, I thought about how this was another opportunity to prove it.
I started by asking myself what it would take to “convince the patient.” I thought, well, it’s more than words. You can say all the words you want, but to be convinced, I have to actually believe it.
Then I thought, okay, why is it that “… matter cannot take cold?” The whole world thinks it can, but Mrs. Eddy revealed that the physical body is actually a mental concept. Matter is not in charge.
She wrote, “Take possession of your body, and govern its feeling and action. Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man.”
The more I thought about it, the more I realized the reason matter can’t take cold is that matter can’t do anything by itself. It has no intelligence. It can’t talk. It has no ability to think or to dictate terms. Mind, God, calls the shots. The body can only follow.
So I continued to reason that matter can’t take cold. And Spirit wouldn’t. Why not? Because Spirit is only good, healthy, and perfect. And if I’m spiritual, I’m perfect. Because if Spirit is God and perfect, and I reflect God spiritually, then I’m perfect. And no cold is possible.
I asked myself again, if matter can’t take cold, and Spirit wouldn’t, where is this cold coming from?
It occurred to me that it was just a lie presenting itself to me for acceptance. It was a lie attempting to make me feel separate from God. I determined that I could choose to reject a lie about myself and God.
Now about this time, just as I was getting somewhere metaphysically, a feeling of futility swept over me. I thought, “You have a cold. Get used to it. Talk to yourself all you want. It doesn’t change the fact.”
But it wasn’t a spiritual fact—and that’s why I immediately knew, despite everything, that I could still choose to disagree with the lie and agree with spiritual truth. I made a decision not to accept the suggestion that I had a cold.
Finally—and this flowed naturally from the reasoning I’d been doing—I realized that for me to have a cold, I must have been frozen out, or chilled out, or shut out of God’s care for a few minutes, or a few hours, or overnight. And I knew this was not possible. I can never be outside of God’s protection. At this point, I was convinced.
Not long after this, I noticed that my throat was normal and I could swallow naturally. I’d been praying for an hour or so, but I continued to affirm my perfection for another hour or two.
That afternoon I bought a new sleeping bag. For the next five or six days, I rode and camped with no problem. The weather remained cool, but created no hardship for me.
That experience has encouraged me to challenge and refute other suggestions that have come to me for acceptance.
Shakespeare once wrote, “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer, The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them” (Hamlet, III, i). I recommend opposition.
Article originally appeared on www.spirituality.com, October 31, 2006.
Republished with permission of The Christian Science Publishing Society.