As March is National Women’s History Month, I’d like to recognize the achievements of two women. Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, expressed exemplary devotion to humanity as a nurse. This is summed up in her famous words, “You must never so much as think as whether you like it or not, whether it is bearable or not, you must never think of anything except the need, and how to meet it.”
Barton’s unselfishness, gallantry and self-abnegation were monumental, and a century after her death, her organization is still helping the victims of tragedy, violence and storms. In view of this, what she said about one of her contemporaries is notable: “Love permeates all the teachings of this great woman, – so great, I believe, that at this perspective we can scarcely realize how great, and looking into her life history we see nothing but self-sacrifice and selflessness.”
Barton spoke this of Mary Baker Eddy, a fellow member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Like Barton, Eddy’s life was devoted to meeting the human need. But Eddy’s contribution was to help mankind find salvation as well as health. Over a lifetime of prayer and deep study of the Bible, she grasped something that had been lost since the time of the early Christians. In the Bible, especially in the words and works of Christ Jesus, she found divine laws that brought harmony, health, and holiness to humanity. She called this discovery Christian Science.
After years of practicing this Science, and healing others through prayer, Eddy wrote Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures – a book of which over 9 million copies have been sold, helping countless individuals find meaning in life, including recovery from accidents and healing of disease.
She emphasized the importance of St. John’s name for God–Love, and in her book she reassures readers, “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.”
After reading and studying her book, individuals all over the world wrote to Eddy thanking her for her contribution to the health and betterment of mankind. One such individual wrote from Ireland, “Seven years ago I had a very severe attack of rheumatic fever and subsequently two less severe ones. These left all sorts of evils behind them, – debility, chronic constipation, and several others, so that life was often a burden to me and I used to think I never should receive relief or health. I had also lost all love for God and faith in Him.”
All that changed when she was introduced to Science and Health. “One day I realized that I was a well woman”, her account continues, “–that I had taken no medicine for three weeks, and that my body was perfectly harmonious. The reading of Science and Health healed me.”
Since the history of mankind has often forgotten or diminished the importance of women, March rolls on in uncovering stories not often told. In this month of recognizing the contributions of women like Clara Barton, including those in the arts, sciences, theology, sports, even homemaking and community service, it is appropriate to recognize Mary Baker Eddy and the healing impact her book Science and Health has had for over 160 years.
Originally published in Peoria Journal-Star @pjstar