I remember hearing decades ago about the reactions of some jazz pianists after they heard the great jazz pianist Art Tatum play in after-hour gatherings attended generally only by fellow musicians, and quite frankly being puzzled by their responses. Tatum’s technical prowess was on the highest level of any classical musician—Vladimir Horowitz and Artur Rubinstein were great admirers of him and were in awe of his technique and improvisational artistry. Yet some jazz pianists, upon hearing Tatum, gave up playing the piano and took up other instruments averring that they could see no point in continuing since Tatum was so far beyond them.
So why did this puzzle me?
Because when I was a classical pianist and composer, hearing great musicians—including Tatum—inspired me. It made me realize what was possible and it broadened my thought about what I myself might accomplish. Rather than discourage me, it caused me to work harder.
I can recall, as if it were yesterday, hearing for the first time in the early 1970’s a recording of the legendary Italian pianist Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli playing Ferruccio Busoni’s piano transcription of the famous Bach D minor Chaconne for violin. My reaction? I was blown away! I had never heard such speed, clarity, power, and expressiveness before. Just hearing that and realizing what was possible caused my own playing to immediately improve. A sense of limitation had been broken through. And it inspired me to practice harder!
Now comes the question. When we see what Jesus achieved, or what Mary Baker Eddy did, in healing the sick and reforming the sinner, and their demand on each of us to do likewise, is our reaction one of inspiration or discouragement?
When we hear of or speak with those who are striving to be more effective healers—who perhaps see more clearly than we do the demands of following in our Master’s and Mrs. Eddy’s paths—do we think the bar has been raised too high or do we dedicate ourselves to striving to be really consecrated healers and warriors, leaving all for Christ?
The world desperately needs what Christian Science healers have to offer. And each of us who study Science and Health is equipped with the understanding of how to heal the public if we apply ourselves. Will it always be easy? Of course not. Yet ask yourself if it was easy for Jesus or Mrs. Eddy. Far from it! But the reward for doing so is far beyond anything that you and I could possibly imagine at this point!
I’ll end this post with Mary Baker Eddy’s own words from her Miscellaneous Writings (p. 16)—words that make it clear what is required of each of us!
Now, dear reader, pause for a moment with me, earnestly to contemplate this new-born spiritual altitude; for this statement demands demonstration.
Here you stand face to face with the laws of infinite Spirit, and behold for the first time the irresistible conflict between the flesh and Spirit. You stand before the awful detonations of Sinai. You hear and record the thunderings of the spiritual law of Life, as opposed to the material law of death; the spiritual law of Love, as opposed to the material sense of love; the law of omnipotent harmony and good, as opposed to any supposititious law of sin, sickness, or death. And, before the flames have died away on this mount of revelation, like the patriarch of old, you take off your shoes — lay aside your material appendages, human opinions and doctrines, give up your more material religion with its rites and ceremonies, put off your materia medica and hygiene as worse than useless — to sit at the feet of Jesus. Then, you meekly bow before the Christ, the spiritual idea that our great Master gave of the power of God to heal and to save. Then it is that you behold for the first time the divine Principle that redeems man from under the curse of materialism, — sin, disease, and death. This spiritual birth opens to the enraptured understanding a much higher and holier conception of the supremacy of Spirit, and of man as His likeness, whereby man reflects the divine power to heal the sick.
Great post, Ken. I’d actually been feeling a little discouraged recently. This helps put in perspective what I was wrestling with. I have so much growing to do! Thanks.
Hi Brian, I’m so glad that you found this helpful! We’ve all got a lot of growing to do! 🙂