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Roberta Sperling

Roberta Sperling

“To those leaning on the sustaining infinite [God], to-day is big with blessings.” This is the first sentence of "Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures," a book by Christian religious leader Mary Baker Eddy, published in 1875.

March is Women’s History Month, a perfect time to share some facts about this extraordinary woman, her spiritual discovery, and her accomplishments.

Eddy leaned on God throughout her life. Born and raised on a farm in New England, she didn’t have much formal education. However, she was tutored by a college-educated older brother and was an avid reader. Eddy was often ill during the first half of her life. She searched for healing in a variety of methods popular in her day, but found no lasting cure until a life-threatening injury turned her to God in an experience of deep spiritual inspiration. While reading a New Testament account of one of Jesus’ healings, she found herself suddenly healed. To understand how such a healing was possible, she spent several years studying the Bible, especially the life and healing and saving mission of Christ Jesus. Eventually, she began to heal others and found she could teach others to heal spiritually, too.

I learned about Christian Science when searching for answers to questions about my life and what appeared to be a world heading in the wrong direction. I happened to read a religion column in The Christian Science Monitor (a newspaper started by Eddy in 1908), which provided a sense of peace and hope for the future. Not long afterward, I started attending church services.

Eddy founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, four years after the publication of "Science and Health." Initially there were ministers, but eventually she established a system where two elected members of each congregation conduct the services as lay readers. Sunday services include readings from the Bible and "Science and Health." Wednesday meetings include readings, as well as a time for people in the congregation to share thoughts and healings. I was a reader at the Corvallis church for three years and loved the experience. My testimony of a healing of allergies was shared at a church meeting and then published in The Christian Science Journal, one of three denominational periodicals Eddy started.

Eddy set in motion a change in Christian thought — that Christian healing could again be part of daily Christian practice. In 1992, Science and Health was selected as one of the 75 Books by "Women Whose Words Have Changed The World” by the Women’s National Book Association. Eddy was also inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1995.

Several of her poems have been put to music as hymns. Here’s a favorite verse:

Thou to whose power our hope we give,

Free us from human strife.

Fed by Thy love divine we live,

For Love alone is Life.

And life most sweet, as heart to heart

Speaks kindly when we meet and part.

Eddy accomplished a great deal in her lifetime. She didn’t let limited expectations about what women could accomplish inhibit her from following where she believed God was leading. This has encouraged me — and many others—to pray for others whenever asked. A young man told me about problems he was having. I shared healing ideas and prayed. A few weeks ago, we met on the street and he told me he’s been “clean and sober” for the past two years. What a joyful encounter!

And it is with joy I say Mary Baker Eddy has come to be one of my most trusted friends, bringing me closer to God, ”the sustaining infinite,” which is so very “big with blessings.”

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Roberta Sperling is a member of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Corvallis. She serves as a Sunday School teacher, as well as filling other posts at church. She and her husband publish a quarterly craft magazine, as well as poetry magazines and books.