Tag: God

Spiritual Health in the Face of Dementia

Rich Evans, former Committee on Publication for Arizona

Have you ever ridden into a box canyon? It is difficult to see the way out and the walls threaten to cut one off from all that is normal.

Caring for a loved one challenged with dementia can feel like that. It is wearing. For those who cannot afford help it can be exhausting and frightening. All who provide care in these circumstances, paid or unpaid, need aid themselves.

Dementia is not a specific disease, according to Mayo Clinic. Rather, it “describes a group of symptoms affecting memory, thinking and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily functioning”. The caregivers in such a situation become the providers of necessary daily functioning for those who seem unable.

The Mayo Clinic Staff continues with advice to caregivers in such circumstances: “Providing for a person with dementia is physically and emotionally demanding. Often the primary caregiver is a spouse or other family member. Feelings of anger and guilt, frustration and discouragement, worry, grief, and social isolation are common. If you’re a caregiver for someone with dementia: 1) Ask friends or other family members for help when you need it; 2) Take care of your physical, emotional and spiritual health”.

Perhaps focusing on this last point, spiritual health, would help in great measure to meet the physical and emotional needs of anyone caring for those exhibiting dementia. But how does one achieve “spiritual health”?

For me, it includes addressing fears by gaining a sense of God’s infinite love for us.

Unaddressed, fear can block our recognition of needed answers in giving care, it can overwhelm us in apprehension for our own safety, and plummet one into a sense of depression.

But when fear is spiritually overcome the practical impact can be liberating. The perfect example of this was when Christ Jesus, whose fearlessness consistently brought healing, encountered a tragically insane Gadarene man called Legion. Despite this man’s miscreant reputation, self-destructive tendencies, and social isolation, Jesus spoke with him normally and showed his Christly love for one who’d probably never received such restorative attention. That fearless care not only calmed him but cured him permanently.

Could this be possible today? Yes. Even the Mayo report allows, “Some causes of dementia may be reversible”. So, why shouldn’t a caregiver, expressing sufficient spiritual love, not only overcome his or her own fear but extend this sense of God’s love to the one being cared for such that the condition may abate? Over many years in the periodicals of my church there are accounts of various forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, being reversed through a spiritual understanding of God’s healing love.

Many in the business of extending care to humanity have found strength in a more divine motivation for doing their work. I find this statement from a seminal writing on the relationship between spirituality and health encouraging: “It is proverbial that Florence Nightingale and other philanthropists engaged in humane labors have been able to undergo without sinking fatigues and exposures which ordinary people could not endure. The explanation lies in the support which they derived from the divine law, rising above the human. The spiritual demand, quelling the material, supplies energy and endurance surpassing all other aids, and forestalls the penalty which our beliefs would attach to our best deeds.” (S cience and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, p. 385)

Filled with love for God and mankind, divine inspiration can lead us out of the box canyon of apprehension, lifting our thoughts above the shadowy dimensions of caregiving, and brightening the way of those in our charge.

This article was published in the Arizona Silver Belt Newspaper, August 5, 2015.

Effective Path to Natural Healing


Rich Evans, former Committee on Publication for Arizona

Why are so many people reaching out for more natural forms of healing today?

For instance, a young mother recently expressed her delight in having her second child born naturally, instead of by cesarean delivery, experienced in her first childbirth. A close acquaintance is keen on natural oils, herbs, and supplements to augment her family’s health. A naturopath friend diligently seeks to cure his patients by re­balancing the normal physical elements found in the human body, in order to exclude more invasive measures. The Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona strives to discover complementary or alternative means to standard medical approaches, broadening the possibilities for healing.

Perhaps these are all evidences of seekers wanting something better than to be classified as merely a chemical compound, and to work from the premise that each individual is a whole person, and therefore responsible for their own health.

Such an expansive aspiration can attract the criticism of those at ease with the more conventional model of healthcare.

Natural healing, for example, is described, in part, by Wikipedia as pseudoscience. Naturopaths and others in this field, devoting their life to natural healing modalities, understandably don’t take well to the “pseudo” prefix, synonymous with “fake, false, feigned.” Who would? This narrow point of view, perhaps, stems from the habit of considering health as just a limited, matter­based experience without more.

This “more” is not just alternative matter ­ such as oils, herbs, and supplements ­ but a different idea of substance itself. I’ve found that the idea of what’s “natural” is truly expanded when we cease tying it to matter as the “must have” cause and effect. By definition, matter is a limitation because it excludes all that is spiritual. The magnificence and universality of divine Love’s impulse to all mankind is missing — an un-healing limit to place on one’s health.

Ancient and current examples of natural, spiritual healing by divine Love exist. The master Christian, Jesus, healed the servant of a Roman Centurion in response to the soldier’s confidence such healing could transpire without physical intervention and with no diagnosis of matter (Matt. 8:5-­13).

A more recent healing is one of my own. I was freed from a blistered eye, which had become blurry and painful. The situation was alarming. But with persistent prayer to understand the presence of this universal healing Love, and how it is naturally accessible to all ­ as it was to Jesus, to the Centurion, and to many others ­ the condition on my eye cleared. I was healed.

After a decade, there has been no remnant of that experience – no lingering worry of a recurrence. Where did I get my confidence in this divine Science (capitalized to express this God­-based healing system)? It grew from my study of such statements as this: “The physical healing of Christian Science results now, as in Jesus’ time, from the operation of divine Principle [a term for God], before which sin and disease lose their reality in human consciousness and disappear as naturally and as necessarily as darkness gives place to light and sin to reformation. Now, as then, these mighty works are not supernatural, but supremely natural. ” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, p. xi: 9-­15)

Perhaps it is this spiritual thought, available to all, that is the most effective path to natural healing – healing not dependent on matter, but recognizing that God is indeed forever with us, and, as a result, harmony, health, and healing are present and natural, now as always.

This article was published by The Arizona Silver Belt, July 8, 2015.

Healthy Heart

Rich Evans, former Committee on Publication for Arizona

It’s February. Hearts are everywhere. At this time of year many express their love for someone, or for everyone, in heart-shaped gifts. And who doesn’t recall being in primary school, giving or receiving the small heart sweets that had messages like “I LOVE YOU”, “BE MINE”, or simply “LOVE”, stamped on them?

These, coupled with a valentine placed in a decorated shoebox, made for a happy day. Why? Because of what accompanied the sweets and the cards – the sentiment of being appreciated and loved by classmates. That kind of thought lifts us. The trek home on Valentine’s Day was filled with joyful chatter, partly because we felt good about receiving gifts but perhaps even more so for having given them.

Could there be lessons to learn from that? February is National Heart Month in the US. There are many articles about exercise, diet, and healthy habits that focus on the heart as an organ of the body, which we should take care of. That goes without saying. From a standpoint of physique we think of the heart as central to life, indispensable to longevity or even activity. It is vital. But could there be something more to heart health – something found in that primary school experience?

I think there is. Beyond physique, “heart” is understood to mean the center of a person’s thoughts and feelings, the innermost part of our being. It also points to qualities such as courage, sincerity and the cherishing of someone or something. Those are true expressions of the heart. What is common in all of these connotations of “heart” is the focus of thought on others, not just oneself. As a child, this sort of focus brought us jubilation and energy, enriching the heart, and it can do so as adults, too, because it is precisely opposite to the self- absorption and fear which stress the heart, mentally and physically.

I felt this when I was driving home from my office one evening in heavy traffic, weighed down by various pressures at work. I suddenly began to experience pains in my chest and found it difficult to breathe. While seriously disturbed by this, I knew I had a caring family waiting for me at home, ready to greet me and appreciate what I was doing. I felt their love and looked forward to returning the same to them when I saw them. And, more importantly, I had a heartfelt awareness of God’s always-present love, divine Love, embracing us all. As a result, the stress left my thought and my physical condition also normalized.

Such cause and effect is indicated in a statement written by a woman, Mary Baker Eddy, who over a century ago surmounted an oft broken heart to found a church based on Christian healing.

Referring to the divine Mind, God, she wrote that “…there must be a change from the belief that the heart is matter and sustains life, to the understanding that God is our Life, that we exist in Mind, live thereby, and have being.”

She continued: “This change of heart would deliver man from heart- disease, and advance Christianity a hundredfold. The human affections need to be changed from self to benevolence and love for God and man; changed to having but one God and loving Him supremely, and helping our brother man. This change of heart is essential to Christianity, and will have its effect physically as well as spiritually, healing disease.” [Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896, pp. 50-51]

We can all express a generous and happy heart and, undoubtedly, a healthier heart, from as simple an act as placing a card in a decorated shoebox – or whatever the equivalent would be today – blessing both giver and receiver.

This article was published February 13, 2015 in the following newspapers:

Sedona Red Rock News

Lake Havasu City News-Herald

and in the Globe Arizona Silver Belt on February 18, 2015

Metamedicine or Metaphysics: Which Path to Immediate Health?

Rich Evans, former Committee on Publication for Arizona

I arrived in Korea. I was to lead a meeting in the morning. The night resulted in intense stomach pain. Even if the language issues could be overcome, I couldn’t imagine postponing the plans for the day. I needed to be well quickly. Where to turn?

Probably food poisoning would have been diagnosed by a physician, and a generally accepted compound or pill prescribed. It was not my inclination to do this, and if it had, would it have been that simple?

There is a developing trend in medical health…metamedicine…which does not leave doctors with the surety of the past. Metamedicine is the emergence of a second tier of medical diagnosis and judgment that physicians must meet for obtaining approval for payment from insurance companies or government programs. In short, doctors are being second-guessed by a technocratic layer of qualifiers, controlling what is and what is not proper treatment for payment. This can be a problem for timely diagnosis and treatment.

Here is one physician’s concern:

“Knowing what to do when faced with a sick patient is relatively straightforward…But in today’s practice of medicine, that’s not enough. Physicians, PAs and NPs all live in two parallel universes these days, the world of medicine and the world of metamedicine. The world of medicine was created through understanding of life itself. It is vast and complex, and growing exponentially…The world of metamedicine was created by humans with limited understanding of life, but with vast experience in actuarial calculations and bookkeeping. It is growing faster than medicine itself.” http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2014/07/welcome-world-metamedicine.html

It appears that metamedicine isn’t treatment above general medicine to improve and accelerate its good results but, rather, poses an internal, double hurdle in medical judgment between practicing physicians and their approvers, which can lead to inconsistency of diagnosis and delay in treatment.

My decision in that moment in the hotel in Korea removed this dilemma for me. How?

Divine metaphysics is immediately available to anyone, anywhere. The author of an original book on divine metaphysics and healing, Mary Baker Eddy, says this, “Divine metaphysics is now reduced to a system, to a form comprehensible by and adapted to the thought of the age in which we live. This system enables the learner to demonstrate the divine Principle, upon which Jesus’ healing was based, and the sacred rules for its present application to the cure of disease.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures)

Half-way around the world from home, the calming and healing ideas of the loving presence and power of God, changing my view of myself from an acutely ill international traveler to the comforted person I needed to be in that moment, were immediately present and inspiring. I was free of pain that morning and able to conduct the work I had come to do.

Spiritual metaphysics enables one to resolve problems quickly, without conflicting physical diagnosis and its attendant complexities and challenges. Perhaps it can help reduce the problem noted by our physician friend in the same article.

My own experience suggests that the conscious awareness of un-conflicted ideas of health, available from a universal and divine source, a loving God, the same source one finds in Scriptural healing, can provide the most immediate and certain relief from illness to normal health.

Embrace of Mankind Brings Mental Wellness***

 Rich Evans, former Committee on Publication for Arizona

As a child, I dropped a glass milk bottle on my bare toe.  I could easily have slipped into panic or fear, but I didn’t.  My family was at the lunch table and my father jumped up, put one hand on the smashed toe and the other on my shoulder.  The love expressed in the room stopped the fear that might have ensued.  My thought calmed and the pain ceased.  The day went on normally.

The presence of love at that moment definitely affected my mental wellness, to say nothing of my physical condition.  It is worth considering how such loving acts counter physical and mental disturbance and restore mental wellness of those around us, both within our view and outside of it.

January is Mental Wellness Month, which suggests we might reflect on what we can do to aid others who may feel that circumstances have “dropped a bottle on their bare toe”.  They, like all of us, can benefit from an embrace of compassion, if not directly, then figuratively.  We know when we have the support of family, even if we are far from home.  That sort of love is felt and it gives us peace of mind, solid comfort.

There are many dedicated professionals and volunteers working to bring comfort and health of thought to others who are not in the embrace of their formal families.   I was speaking to the head social worker at a state home for adults, who need support due to mental challenges.  I was encouraged to learn that there are measures taken to place a “hand over the toe”, if you will, and to provide an atmosphere of loving support for the patients living there.

The professional staff, indeed, are like family in many ways.  They play music, sing together, maintain a self-advocacy group for those ready for fuller communication, and develop skills that enable each individual to reach her or his capacity to integrate as much as possible into the community.

This compassionate work is augmented by a volunteer program, where members of the community may serve as surrogate family for individuals.  This furthers social integration and creates a sense of normalcy, aiding in mental awareness and self worth for the individual needing that.  This activity can lead to mutual mental wellness, for the volunteer as well as for the client in the home.  Unselfish acts lead to healthier thoughts.

We have seen these unselfish actions and their good outcomes throughout history.  Certainly it was evidenced in Scripture, as Christ Jesus gave two commands, to love God and to love mankind.*  His love for others was often repeated in healing, in feeding multitudes, and in befriending the less advantaged.  We can do the same and find mental wellness for ourselves by aiding in the mental wellness of others…”blessed is that man who seeth his brother’s need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another’s good”**.

*The Bible, Matt. 22:37-40

**Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 518, Mary Baker Eddy

***[This article was published January 29, 2014 in the Arizona Silver Belt newspaper, print edition.]

Grandmothers’ Wisdom and Integrative Medicine

I was listening to a brief video  chat with Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, M.D. who is Director of the Fellowship program at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona.  She is also the author of the book,  Life is Your Best Medicine.   While targeted at women’s health, both her video chat and her book have some useful insights for all (http://www.drlowdog.com/omm-medicine-road.html).

The one that caught my attention was the statement made by her grandmother, that when we are born “we’re set upon a path and that path is our medicine, and that everything we do in our life, from the food that we eat to the thoughts that we think, it affects us”.  She calls this our “medicine road”.  Dr. Low Dog goes on to say in part that “so much of the diseases that we see…really have their roots in the way we live our lives.”

That encounter caused me to ask, “What is my medicine road?”  Well, it has been and is a spiritual one.  Why?  Because it is the path exemplified by Christ Jesus, whose “medicine road” many seek to follow and whose “food” was the “bread of heaven” and whose thoughts were always in touch with God, with the divine sense of existence.  The evidence-based outcomes of his medicine were healing, redemption, and unending life.

There are sensible, practical suggestions of care for oneself given by Dr. Low Dog.  These include meditation, conscious breathing, wholesome foods, herbs, etc.  But a path must lead somewhere.  Should it be a path that ends in plants or physique?  Or, might our path be more enlightened if it leads to grace, to love of man and the universe in which we find ourselves?

One of the thoughts that I feed myself fairly regularly in the path of life is this statement from Mary Baker Eddy, a theologian who traveled a unique “medicine road” to found Christian Science.  Her statement in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures is this, “What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds”.  That is the most practical and healthiest “medicine road” I know…one my grandmothers left to me.

Unstressed Through Forgiveness

I was recently reading Suzanne Fisher’s book, Amish Peace, which has a chapter on “Forgiveness”.  In that chapter, she refers to a study (“The Stanford Forgiveness Project”), which found, not too surprisingly, that those who completely forgave others had reduced stress symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, dizziness, fatigue and muscle pain.

Leading up to that finding, she gives two examples of fatal accidents where the victim’s family of the first incident completely forgives the individual whose negligence caused the harm.  In the second instance, the father in the victim’s family does not forgive the perpetrator and ultimately endures such pain that he takes his own life.

There needn’t be such extreme cases to raise the question as to whether pain can be relieved through clearing our thought of blaming and condemning others or ourselves, rather than adding chemicals to the body.

In my own experience, I have never found blame useful.  I can recall an incident where I had taken an axe to an old tree root that needed removing.   At one point the root was not yielding to the axe and I got upset with the root and really gave it a whack.  The axe head sprung up and struck me in the forehead.  That wasn’t the outcome I was looking for.  But I needed to stop blaming the root, and the axe, and myself, to find my peace.  The wound on my head healed quickly, without evidence of the incident.

Sometimes, we carry wrongs done to us and develop habits of blame that we think we are justified in maintaining.  Who is it that is hurt by this?  Does the blame spring back and make the healing of wounds difficult?  Perhaps, we are well advised by the Amish sense of complete and immediate forgiveness, which is taught in the Scriptures in such examples as Jacob’s wrestling with an injured hip and how that was healed in overcoming his sense of guilt regarding deceiving his brother over inheritance.  He found release in a better understanding of his relationship to God, good, the same source to which the Amish turn.

There is much historical evidence, along with the recent Stanford study, regarding the correlation of forgiveness and health.

[Posted from Ambleside, Cumbria, UK]