Monday, July 30, 2007

Fear & Darkness

I love the outdoors and I love my continued growth in Christian Science. Many times over, the challenges out in nature have provided the necessity of my absolute reliance on God; and through the application of my Christian Science studies, absolute proof that all is well. Though I have been in other situations that seemed more "real" or life threatening, the following story is one of those experiences where I learned the deceptive nature of fear and darkness.

My buddies and I used to take an annual canoe and kayak trip down a northern California river, where we would camp out on a sand bar each night as our trip progressed. Well, one year we decided to extend the trip an extra day and night by launching our boats further up stream. The idea was to explore new waters. The first day and night were absolutely the best we had experienced in our river adventures -- beautiful scenery and a perfect camp site.

Unfortunately, at times we can get complacent when things are going well. There is a tendency to not pay attention to the snags around the next bend; as opposed to how alert we are when we're not satisfied with our current situation.

The second morning of the trip, I was just ahead of the two canoes carrying my four friends, and I was the only one to have previously navigated this stretch of river. I warned my friends about the upcoming river bend, where there were half submerged snags (fallen trees) reaching out from both sides of the river bank, situated in the narrowest gap of rapids that we would see on our three day trip.

As soon as I was near this formidable river bend I dismounted my kayak and was in the process of pulling out of the water so as to walk around the rapids and snags. So caught up in the moment were my friends that they ignored my actions and moved ahead through the rapids. Immediately the current pushed the first canoe into the tree that was jetting out ninety degrees from the river bank. Consequently, the lead canoe was pushed side ways against the snag and perpendicular to the current. My friends made a strong effort to push off of the half submerged tree...just as they were about to recover from their dire situation the second canoe came along striking the distressed lead canoe, and pushing it once again broadside into the half submerged tree. Within seconds, the lead canoe took on water, submerged, and then twisted in half molding itself to the snag. Both passengers were able to grab onto the tree and swim to safety. They lost everything in the canoe but they were happy to be alive. As it turns out, on several occasions before and after this experience, people have drowned in this exact spot under similar conditions.

Fortunately, less than two miles down stream was the last bridge or contact with society we would have for the rest of our trip. The remaining canoe was able commandeer a power boat to come up the river and rescue the canoe-less duo. Though shaken, the three of us who still had our boats intact decided to continue on with our trip. The upcoming evening taught me a lot about fear and darkness.

We had a full day basking in the sun and taking in the pristine beauty of late summer on the river. As the sun started to going down we were in need of finding a sand bar to camp on. Once the sun disappeared we were out of luck, and we were still hopeful that we could find adequate space on an upcoming island. Unfortunately there was no moon and we realized that the flashlights were somewhere up stream at the bottom of the river, due to the morning's accident.

Visibility was zero! As we moved forward the sound of rapids grew louder. As the rapids became more pronounced so did the anxiety grow amongst my two companions. Once the rapids were upon us, my friends in the canoe started panicking -- screaming obscenities at each other and crying out in terror to the doom that was sure to happen. Keep in mind these were two grown men that understand paddling a canoe requires teamwork. Their struggles and fear were so palpable that it started to get to me -- I could feel their fear and it started to make me fearful. In that moment I reached out to God knowing that we were not alone there on the water. The rapids were loud, it was dark, and the situation did not look or feel good. Anyway, the answer to my plea "God what do I need to do here?" came quickly. The thought that came to me was to dismount the kayak and test the river bottom ... not something that I would ever think of doing because it required a lot of risk, especially since I was not wearing a life preserver at that moment. However that was the clear impulse that came to my appeal or prayer, so I was obedient. Too my shock as I slid out of the kayak I realized that we were floating in ankle deep water!! Needless to say my friends did not find the humor in the situation. They definitely did not side with my laughter.

The best part was we were right along side the island that we were hoping to reach, which we were soon to discover. Now, if I had not listened and checked the status of the water depth we would have continued on (missing the island) and into a layer of snags and deeper water. The lesson, for me at least, was at the very moment when things seemed dark, helpless, and foreboding -- all was well. There was an answer, regardless of the paralysis of fear conspiring with the blinded senses and threatening roar of the rapids: we were right where we needed to be.

"Darkness and chaos are the imaginary opposites of light, understanding, and eternal harmony, and they are the elements of nothingness."
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, page 479:23

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Style Lessons: Harmony & Ageless Grace on the Water

Living at the beach I am exposed to all types of fashions, fads, personalities, or put simply a wide range of style. Essentially each diverse note celebrates the concept of youth. Beach culture, especially surfing, embodies (and aggressively markets) the "coolness" or style of perpetual youth. Are you familiar with the movie title, "Endless Summer"?

One recent evening demonstrated to me more than any marketing image the essence of "man's eternal noon." After catching a fun wave to the shore and turning to paddle back out to where the waves begin to peak; I noticed out of the corner of my eye a surfer riding a wave towards me in a classic soul arch stance. My first thought was, "How cool was that!?" It was done in a manner that was graceful yet subtle; in a way that I am not used to seeing. Upon a second and a third glance I realized it was one of surfing's legends -- Skip Frye. A man who on land might seem unassuming but in a crowded beach line-up certainly stands out. It was my first time witnessing him surf, despite hearing much of his ability.

My curiosity sparked, I jumped out of the water and ran up the bluff above the beach to witness an impromptu clinic on style. To describe how this man rode each wave to the beach, changing direction, walking to the nose of his board and back -- I would have to use words like smooth, confident, graceful, efficient, nimble, respectful, and balanced. These words describe one who not only caught more waves than anyone else out there, but one who is in his mid-sixties.

As I watched, words from the previous Christian Science weekly Bible Lesson filled my thought... "Each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness." 1 "The recipe for beauty is to have less illusion and more Soul..." 2 "Men and women of riper years and larger lessons ought to ripen into health and immortality, instead of lapsing into darkness or gloom. Immortal Mind feeds the body with supernal freshness and fairness, supplying it with beautiful images of thought and destroying the woes of sense which each day brings to a nearer tomb."3

This gentleman was demonstrating anything but age, decay, or weakness. Towards the end of this two hour session, as the sun was sinking into the Pacific blue horizon. I realized another for man's eternal noon. "Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."4

1 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, page 246:25
2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, page 247:31
3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, page 248:5
4 The Bible, Philippians 4:8

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Purity Is Reality

Since this is the first posting to this blog I might as well explain the title of this site: "Purity is Reality." Well, I am an avid surfer. In the late 1980's and early 1990's there was a monthly advertisement in Surfer magazine which was basically their contribution to the "Just Say No" to drugs campaign. Each month there would be a different painting of one of world's top surfers with their own motto in regards to drug use. Normally it would be something along the lines "Never done them, and never will." Anyway, each time I would come across the ad I would picture myself in the painting, carving a wave with my own take on the subject. The saying I came up with was to become my own motto for life: "Purity is Reality, and consciousness induced by anything else is a lie."

I never became a professional surfer and a picture of me styling on a wave has yet to make it in the magazine but that saying sums up the essence of my approach to life. Consequently, I still get to put those words out there with my picture...on my blog.

As a Christian Science practitioner my purpose is to lift up my thought as well as other's, and therefore our life experience by seeing and acknowledging God as always present; seeing Father-Mother Love guarding, guiding, and governing every aspect of our being. One of Jesus' Beatitudes from The Sermon on the Mount is: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." From which we can conclude that if our motives and the thoughts we entertain are pure then we can expect to see and feel the abundance of good, health and harmony that Life is presenting us each and every moment.

Think about it, when you eliminate the garbage and clutter from a room, and then have the remaining contents in order, in their right place, you must get a sense of peace in that space which before did not seem to be present. The same goes with our thought or consciousness. When our thought is clouded by material stimulants, or crowded by negative thoughts or impulses -- such as fear, lack, anger, sorrow, jealousy, hatred, revenge, etc. -- there would seem to be no peace in the space of our lives'.

The good news is that purity is reality. As we purify thought -- by eliminating the aforementioned negatives -- we shall see God. We shall see and appreciate the presence of good that each moment provides. In addition as we get closer to pure consciousness -- God's thoughts expressed as us -- we will manifest health, wealth, freedom, and joy in our bodies, in our relationships, in our careers, and in our day.