A “great need for a place of refuge…”

 
Since 1919, thousands from around the world have experienced the healing atmosphere offered by the Benevolent Association. Below we present just a handful of inspired comments from patients, guests, residents, and staff — heartfelt and inspiring accounts of blessings received. Adam Dickey’s article published in the December 16, 1916 Christian Science Sentinel, has special significance. In it he writes, “[Mary Baker Eddy’s] own experience had shown her the great need for a place of refuge to which sufferers could retire, and where they would receive proper care and attention….” It’s with the spirit of that purpose that we present the following inspiration from a few of the many who have experienced this spiritual refuge at the BA. 

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A few years ago, after injuring my arm, I came to the BA and found so much lovingkindness and supportive care from the wonderful Christian Science nurses. They always supply the loving care you need and then encourage your developing independence as the healing takes place. The healing and recuperation took place at the BA — where I felt secure and tenderly cared for in a peaceful and quiet setting. I’m most grateful for the BA and all it stands for.
 
—Former Patient

 

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Once I shut the door to my home and got in the car and started the drive here to the BA, the most beautiful thing happened: an incredible sense of peace came over me. The ride here was beautiful, not in the scenery so much, but the peace that I felt. Because I felt I had made a mental decision to give two days of time to God in communion, and to do it in an atmosphere in which, when I arrived here, I knew exactly what it was that gave me that anticipated peace.
 
When I arrived and got into the room that had been provided for me, I felt as if I had entered an environment where there was a collective “yes.” Yes to healing, yes to God, yes to the Christ-presence and I felt enveloped in it.
 
“I think my experience in just trying to leave my home that Sunday afternoon is indicative of what stands in the way of the opportunity to be in an environment in which there are not the daily distractions that would prevent one from giving full attention to their own spiritual growth. I think that what I experienced once I gave my consent to take advantage of that opportunity for rest and study was the full blessing of it. Because when I woke each morning that I was here, there was nothing to distract me from extended time with the Bible Lesson, for instance. There was a wonderful breakfast provided–after that your time is free and there’s not a work commitment, there’s not a home commitment. And it truly is refreshing and revitalizing.
 
…Even if you don’t meet everybody who may work here or be here, be they fellow guests or Christian Science nursing guests, you feel the sense of family. There’s a warmth that’s expressed in the hallways as you’re walking and as you’re having your lunch or dinner or breakfast. The welcome is very loving and it’s something you feel embraced in; I truly felt embraced in it.
 
—Former Rest & Study Guest

 

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The illuminated understanding of our Leader’s provision for our Church that initially brought me to this ministry only deepened in the classroom. From the beginning of this training, I knew that I was on safe ground for the instruction of ethics and skills in the classroom. That instruction continually turned us to the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy for direction. The classroom time provided me the opportunity to see how the Word continues to speak to us and guide us throughout our nursing practice, elevating our standards, purifying our ethics, and refining our character. At the core of my training has been the clear understanding that this ministry supports healing. The purity of Christian Science nursing, as imparted throughout my training, has prepared me to better support each case calling on the Manual By-law.
 
—Christian Science Nursing Arts Participant

 

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There have been many times when I have felt in my work that I’m up against a wall with no answer in sight. And, then through prayer, the answer is clear. Everything needed comes together seamlessly, harmoniously. What a privilege it is to witness the healing going on in all the departments of the BA. It is truly inspiring to see divine Love in operation.
 
—Current Staff Member

 

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The Bible often depicts people in extreme circumstances: in floods, fires, deserts, storms, wildernesses with no food or shelter. Stripped of all human aid and comfort, these people in Biblical stories turn to God for help, and God does help them. These different depictions all show different aspects of the same lesson being taught to humanity, the one we read about in Psalm 139: “whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” God is ever-present and infinite, the same yesterday and today and forever.
 
The Benevolent Association provides a unique opportunity for Christian Scientists in the midst of a storm or desert experience to focus on God without any distractions. They are given space and time to seek God wholeheartedly. It is a good place to find God.
 
—Current Volunteer
 
 

I came to live at the Residences at 910 several years ago because it seemed like a good life choice. Coming from a situation where I was living alone, where getting together with friends often ended in recitals of health problems, I felt enormous relief in no longer being subjected to these “organ recitals.” In my new home I could come to our meals in the dining room and expect to find an elevated level of conversation and even shared spiritual insights. Gratitude, not griping, is a habit of thought in a Christian Science environment.
 
Living in a community such as the Residences at 910, I have discovered, teaches many life lessons which can bring health and wholeness. When I first moved in, I witnessed one of the residents kindly assisting another — her friend — who was dealing with a mobility issue. I was so touched by this expression of loving-kindness that I became more alert to the ways that I too might become more helpful to my fellow residents and guests, realizing that we are all called to demonstrate divine Love to the world right around us. Living in a community as we do puts us, daily, in the position to witness many mini-acts of loving-kindness — the infinitesimals — that can bring joy to our lives. Living in this community has taught me about patience, thoughtfulness, sharing, and generosity of spirit — because I am seeing these qualities expressed in my fellow residents.
 
In addition to conversations with guests, our mental horizons are further stretched by the stimulation of discussions of articles from The Christian Science Monitor, by films, by lectures, and by other thought-awakening experiences. Living in this community is also an invitation to grow spiritually by developing new interests and skills as well as sharing the skills, talents, and expertise developed in our former experience. This might take the form of planning and playing piano for monthly Hymn Sings; it might be setting up art workshops, reading books on scriptural, historical, and biographical themes to groups of Residents, sharing children’s literature at a local elementary school, or facilitating a variety of courses on topics of interest, all of which enrich thought and help us remain vital and stimulated individuals.
 
I have discovered in months that have grown into years that this is not only a nice place to live but, in our daily lives and interactions, it is also a refuge for healing and wholeness, which is another way of saying it’s a great place to be!
 
—Current Resident

 

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For me, a resident of The Residences at 910, my apartment is within a home, a place of refuge, and a sanctuary for healing in Christian Science.
 
I appreciate this line of Merriam Webster’s definition of “refuge”: “Place of shelter, protection, or safety.” It is a very apt definition for both the Christian Science nursing facility and The Residences at 910. And I treasure this line from a dictionary definition of “home”: “Any place of residence or refuge; a heavenly home.” To me it amplifies one of Mary Baker Eddy’s statements about home in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Home is the dearest spot on earth, and it should be the centre, though not the boundary, of the affections” (p. 58:21). Because we are talking about the BA as a refuge for healing, I’d like to share a healing I had a few months after making my home in The Residences at 910.
 
I woke up one morning feeling a bit woozy. Feeling nauseous and wobbly when I got out of bed and stood up, I quickly laid back down and thought about God’s great love for me and His constant care. I knew that I was not alone, and that there was nothing to fear. I was in His presence. He was right there with me. I dozed for a very short time and woke feeling refreshed and ready to get on with my day.
 
However, shortly after stepping into the shower I felt myself losing consciousness. I took hold of the handrail and let myself slowly down to a sitting position in the tub. I declared out loud the “scientific statement of being” from Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy’s textbook on spiritual healing – healing as practiced by Jesus.
 
I began to question and reason through the entire statement. The first line says “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter.”  I asked myself why she made this radical statement and why it is true. These questions were answered in the next sentence: because “All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation….” So if the source of what is manifested is infinite, then all that is seen, expressed, felt, or witnessed from that source is infinite. It is perfect. Therefore I am perfect because the only Creator made me in His image and likeness. Health is pure and perfect just as its source is pure and perfect. Always. And that’s the all and the only that I can experience or manifest. Ever. And it can only be manifested entirely without fault or defect; faithfully reflecting the original. There is nothing else.
 
My reasoning continued on with more questions, and their answers, gleaned from statements included in this scientific statement of being. Answers that had been revealed to Mrs. Eddy. For example, why is there nothing else? Because “God is All-in-all”! Because “Spirit is immortal Truth .…” (I knew Spirit to be a synonym for God.) Because “Spirit is the real and eternal .…” There is, can be, no entity or being that has even a hint of power to break in to halt, hinder, or interfere with continuation of my perfection as God’s loved and perfect child.
 
I prayed for several minutes to understand with greater clarity and accept with more complete confidence my identity as the man made in His image and likeness – man that is not material but spiritual. Mary Baker Eddy’s words were a divine revelation to her. She shared her revelation with the world. It gives a foundation to reason out from and to understand and know the allness and perfection of God and of man made to glorify Him as His image and likeness.
 
To quote Eddy, “I knew the Principle of all harmonious Mind-action to be God, and that cures were produced in primitive Christian healing by holy, uplifting faith; but I must know the Science of this healing, and I won my way to absolute conclusions through divine revelation, reason, and demonstration” (Science and Health p. 109: 16-22).

I stood up, finished my shower, and dressed for the day. I texted a Christian Science practitioner to pray with me to protect my demonstration and healing. Within an hour I had a call from someone for help. I accepted the opportunity and had a perfect and perfectly wonderful day of giving. About dinner time I realized I had not called back to give thanks for the healing support. I called.
 
Going back to the original topic: “The BA as a refuge for healing.” I would say “Yes, it absolutely is!” I would say the same for The Residences at 910 — a home that includes a refuge for healing. Again, to quote a line from the definition of “home” — “any place of residence or refuge; a heavenly home.” I’ve found it to be a place in which one’s domestic affections are centered and one’s familial ties are honored and strengthened.
 
—Current Resident