The struggle for realizing equality between men and women has been going on for ages. For example, in July of 1848, the first Women’s Rights Convention in the U.S. was held in the little hamlet of Seneca Falls, New York. The organizers, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, sounded the call and declared that the mission of the convention was to “discuss the social, civil, and religious conditions and rights of women.” Two hundred people were in attendance and, on the second day, forty men participated, including African-American abolitionist, Frederick Douglas, who was no stranger to inequality.
The outcome of this historic gathering resulted in the construction of a document that Stanton had drafted during the days of the convention. This, “Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances,” was closely modeled after the American Declaration of Independence. In its preamble featured this similar proclamation, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…”
At this very same time, in nearby New Hampshire, there lived a young widow by the name of Mary Baker Glover, (who eventually became known to the world as Mary Baker Eddy.) She had a young son named George whom she had a hard time caring for due to her chronic ill health.
Through a series of complicated events, her son was eventually taken out of her care and went to live with another family who later moved to Minnesota. In effect, she lost custody because she was often ill, could not support herself financially, and had little custodial rights as a widowed woman.
Eddy was a devoted student of The Bible, a true spiritual seeker. She was also seeking a cure for the ailments that had plagued her much of her life. In her search for healing, she tried the medicines of her day – allopathy, homeopathy and others. Some brought temporary relief, but then relapse would follow; none offered permanent healing.
Then on a cold February day in 1866, while living in Lynn, Massachusetts, she slipped and fell on an icy sidewalk on her way to a temperance meeting. The impact caused severe internal damage. She could not walk, and the prognosis, based on a medical examination, gave little hope that she would survive.
As was her practice, she turned to her Bible, to the report where Jesus heals a man who could not walk. This account deeply and profoundly resonated with her and over the next couple of days the injuries from the fall disappeared and she felt whole and well. She had this to say about the experience:
“When apparently near the confines of mortal existence, standing already within the shadow of the death-valley, I learned these truths in divine Science: that all real being is in God, the divine Mind, and that Life, Truth and Love are all powerful and ever-present…”
The next three years of her life were devoted to Biblical study – pouring over the scriptures in an attempt to understand what had freed her. The words and works of Jesus were her teachers. His profound statement, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free,” summed up, in part, what she was discovering. She was finding that the more she understood the truth about God and about herself as a child of God, the more she could consistently find freedom from the ills that had plagued her.
She started sharing what she understood about Christian healing with others, helping them to overcome sickness, addictions, and a variety of behavioral problems and shortcomings. Pretty soon she was taking on students and teaching them to heal through prayer. A medical doctor witnessed one such healing and urged her to write down how she did this in a book so that all could benefit. She did and called it, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.”
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Mary Baker Eddy was considered to be the most famous woman in America. She was a preacher, author, publisher and founder of a rapidly growing church. And in her 87th year, in response to the yellow journalism of her day, she started an international newspaper known as “The Christian Science Monitor.”
She was able to accomplish all of this despite the fact that she could not vote. And she was largely, by religious and societal norms, and in some cases, the law, barred from business dealings, preaching from a pulpit and offering to heal the sick.
It was a far cry from the woman who, just a few decades before, had been a poor, penniless invalid teetering on the cusp of death.
In her exhaustive search for health, she discovered the deeper meaning about what those “certain inalienable rights” were. They weren’t just about business, political or parental rights. She found that the Creator endows everyone with freedom from all inequality, behavioral shortcomings, disease and even death, just as Jesus taught.
This Truth is just as powerful and present today as it was 2000 years ago.
Originally published in She is Fierce!, @SheIsFierceHQ