Hieroglyphs, those pictorial characters that the Egyptians used for language, were the way Mary Baker Eddy, 19th century pioneer in spirituality and health, described flowers. She said, “The floral apostles are hieroglyphs of Deity.”
What an interesting connection. Flowers communicate – or picture – to us something about Deity. In their beauty, color and symmetry we see something of Deity’s expertise as Creator. In the tenderness of their petals, each in its place, we may see Deity’s tender care for creation.
Similarly, other pictures found in nature or portrayed in artwork may draw thought to the nature of Deity and His creation.
And it turns out that this is beneficial to our health.
Eddy explains, “…the right understanding of Him restores harmony.” And the Bible puts it this way: “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace.”
Now picture this. Years ago, I was visiting my childhood home to help care for my mother who was ill and immobile. Once, while others cared for her, I walked down to the nearby lake, walked out on the dock and sat down on a bench there. Winter was yielding to spring. I was alone. It was mid-day but the water was perfectly still with a stillness usually reserved for the early morning or evening hours.
Looking around the lake, I was struck by how everything on land above the shoreline was perfectly reflected in the water. Hold on to this, and I’ll come back to it in a moment.
This summer, I visited the Healing Arts Gallery at MidMichigan Health in Midland while it was displaying artwork by Jennifer Cook of Herron, Michigan. Her abstract paintings and terracotta pots are full of bright and warm colors that encourage, inspire, and comfort.
It’s interesting to me how her artwork communicates something about Deity, as in her painting entitled, “God Heals and is the God of Restoration.”
Also interesting is how the very process of painting the artwork involved learning more of spiritual things. According to the Gallery’s flyer, Cook found that as she allowed God “to guide each stroke and choose each color” she gained “insight to greater freedom and spirituality.”
Painting #001 in the Gallery especially piqued my interest. It is entitled, “God loves you! He made you. You have a purpose!!! Embrace it!” It is a painting of a person standing on the shore of a small lake out in the woods, surrounded by trees, with sunshine coming through, and the trees – and the clouds above them – reflected in the lake.
Naturally, it reminded me of my earlier experience. The reflection I saw in the lake moved me to ponder the connection that I have – that we all have – with the Divine, with Deity. I thought of the Biblical statement that God made man in His own image and likeness – or, in other words, as His reflection. All around the lake, with each house and each tree, I could see the exact likeness that the reflection in the lake had to its original on land.
It was clear to me that there is a similar relationship between Deity and all of His reflection – all of us. Each of us is really an individual exact likeness expressing His qualities, such as beauty, tenderness, goodness, life, and health.
This reflection in the lake acted as a hieroglyph that conveyed to me a deeper understanding of Deity. This reduced stress and anxiety, enabling me to better care for my mother. And my mother, who was receiving prayer-based spiritual treatment and learning more of Deity herself, improved and was able to get about on her own again.
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. If hieroglyphs such as these lead to better health, then perhaps they warrant our attention.
Note: this article was first published in print in The Midland Daily News August 3, 2014.
There’s a reason they’re called man’s best friend.
If you’ve ever had a dog, then you already know something about dogs’ unconditional love. This warrants considering more deeply the divine source and nature of love and its healing power.
Health blogger Linda Ross in Connecticut shares a touching account on LinkedIn of a dog’s unconditional love reaching a soldier suffering with PTSD. It gives a glimpse into unconditional love’s ability to reach below the surface and melt away “difficult memories”. We might also consider how we all have a “divine friendship” with divine Love.
She “was no ordinary woman. Behind her Victorian-era velvet and lace dress was a 21st century power suit.”
March is Women’s History Month. And so, appropriately, Ingrid Peschke, a regular health blogger on the Huffington Post, “highlights an often overlooked 19th century woman for her significant contributions to religion and health.” Peschke continues, “Her strength of character, courage and commitment are evident in the body of work she accomplished.”
What is this woman’s name and what is her remarkable story?
How did she test her conclusions?
Why did a doctor ask her to write a book about her findings in achieving health?
Recently, a report with recommendations of a working group of the National Cancer Institute was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The report advocates changing the definition of cancer and eliminating the word from medical diagnoses in cases where it is deemed unwarranted resulting in over-diagnosis and over-treatment to the detriment of the patient.
Rich Evans, a colleague of mine in Arizona who grew up in Michigan, shares insightful thoughts about this in a recent blog post.
Here’s an excerpt:
“The lesson here is that the name of a disease is not the truth about anyone. It is a point of view, the accuracy and consequences of which can vary considerably. It is bold for this report to break from historical labeling patterns. The direction of the report is encouraging in the elimination of unnecessary fear and treatment and in its acknowledgement that perhaps mitigation of disease starts by avoiding names that alarm, for what we hold in consciousness about disease may play a large role in outcomes.”
The discomfort produced by guilt is not limited to mental agony; it brings physical torment as well. And since guilt starts in our heads, that’s where its cure needs to begin.
As Keith Wommack of Corpus Christi, Texas writes in a Houston Chronicle article last week, “in order to heal a body affected by guilt, a mind must change.”
In a touching account, Wommack shares how a Michigan woman struggling with guilt, pain and disability found healing and freedom. He summarizes it this way: “God’s love was the medicine that changed her mind and healed her physically.”
From Reuters, by Debra Sherman, posted on HuffingtonPost.com, March 13, 2013
“We are eager to add medicines and reluctant to take them away,” said Krumholz, who heads the Yale-New Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation and is a frequent critic of how drugs are sold and used. “So people accrue medications over time.”
Dr. Robert Harrington, a cardiologist at the Stanford School of Medicine, said…”There’s got to be a way to start peeling away, and maybe it’s over a period of time, or as the clinical status changes.”
A Perspective on health: “On the trail of relief from sinusitis”
By Tony Lobl, Christian Science Monitor (CSMonitor.com), March 4, 2013
Since that time, my first choice of medication has been to strive to be more aware of, and express, that unbounded spiritual consciousness – that divine Mind – which spirituality and health pioneer Mary Baker Eddy described as the infinite intelligence behind Jesus’ [healings].
Such an approach to health is no guarantee of a problem-free life. But it comes with spiritual “health benefits,” with no adverse side effects.
“Over 80% of Americans directly feel God’s love according to a survey conducted by the organization funded by the John Templeton Foundation”.
This was reported by Steven Salt last month in an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Cleveland.com) entitled, “Love delivers healthy makeover”.
With some recent incidents in the news that just call out for compassion, this is good news.
Salt writes about a four-year initiative called the Flame of Love Project. He reports on how feeling God’s love increases compassion for others and how that often translates into acts of benevolence, which in turn are beneficial to the giver.
This love-impelled activity:
Improves physical well-being;
Raises self-confidence and self-esteem;
May even help you live longer.
Taking an even broader perspective on love, the Fetzer Institute here in Michigan is focusing on how “individual awareness of love and forgiveness can make a transformative impact on the world.”
It appears that whether the issue is big or small, love delivers.
Here’s a GUEST POST by Rich Evans, a colleague of mine in Arizona, about integrative medicine and a growing shift towards spiritual well being. Rich grew up in Michigan – in St. Joe – and spent summers working in Leelanau. He is currently the spokesperson for Christian Science in the state of Arizona – a state in which integrative medicine has early roots. Here’s his thoughtful piece.
“Whole-body Healing” … Good Step
The Arizona Republic recently ran an article (Friday, January 5, 2013) in its “your health” section entitled, “Whole-body Healing” written by Ken Alltucker. The article focused on patient centered, integrative medicine. Good news…the founder of the term “integrative medicine” is in our backyard. While the field is growing, the term and concept have been developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, who heads the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine (CIM). As the article indicates, integrative medicine, while viewed in various ways, can be defined as “the practice of combining conventional medicine with complementary and alternative medical techniques that are supported by medical literature or evidence”. This is a breakthrough article for this column.
The article further described that the CIM has opened an office in Phoenix, the Arizona Integrative Health Center, which approaches health with the patient at the focus of the practice, rather than the disease. Then, there are several examples given of work being performed at the Mayo Clinic and by an individual psychiatrist in their respective practices using integrative medicine techniques successfully. I find all of this encouraging, as it begins to recognize healing as involving a more complete understanding of the whole person as patient. The examples given demonstrate that solutions emerged when either habits of thinking or acting were corrected, demonstrating the importance of thought on the body and its connection to healing.
One has to appreciate the courage, candor, and clarity shared by Drs. Bergstrom (Mayo), Hernandez (independent psychiatrist), and Rula (medical director of the CIM), as they push the frontiers of their professions into a more holistic frame. In the article, among the varied healing strategies of patient centered, integrative medicine, there was a brief mention of spiritual well-being as part of the “whole”. Given that among the stated purposes of the CIM are evidence-based and lower cost methods, spiritual well-being may be key to achieving those goals.
The spiritual basis of healing is perhaps the longest running method in the spectrum of integrative healing, actively utilized well before that term existed. Not only can we find numerous accounts in Biblical history, especially after the establishment of Christianity, but there is ample evidence today of its efficacy. My own experience includes healing of pain, viruses, malaria, and many other disorders all through spiritual prayer…prayer that is not wishful thinking or a function of the human brain, but a recognition of divine, loving consciousness, divine Mind, if you will, reflected in our individual thought and lives. More than a remedy, the advantage of spiritual well-being, is that it includes a fulfilling sense of identity and health for all, without economic barriers.
I like the direction of The Arizona Republic article and hope that the “whole-body” concept continues to expand the role of spiritual well-being. Perhaps we will learn that it is at the center of our health. It certainly is for me.