Step by Step

Step by Step


A guest post written by Graham Bothwell

On clear winter days from our kitchen window we can see the peak of Mt. San Jacinto, 70 miles away, the second-highest mountain in Southern California. Late last summer, my wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by spending the day hiking to the top of the mountain. We drove the couple of hours out to Palm Springs, and then, like most people who hike this mountain, we took the Aerial Tramway, an amazing 10-minute ride from the hot desert floor at 2,600 feet to the cool alpine forest at 8,500 feet. From there we hiked the several miles of trail to the summit at 10,800 feet. It’s not an arduous hike, but it’s reasonably steep over substantial stretches, and ends with scrambling over boulders.

After enjoying the stupendous view and after eating our lunch, we began the descent back the way we came up. Two things happened on the descent. First I found myself experiencing the unpleasant, dizzying effects of the altitude. As a child I had attended the Christian Science Sunday School, where I first learned how to pray for myself, and that has been a good starting point for relying on Christian Science over the years. And so I was able to pray about the altitude effects while continuing with the hike, and the symptoms went away before we had gone much further.

Then after a while, on the steep downhill grade, my knees began to be extremely painful, each step requiring deliberate effort. Stopping for a rest didn’t help; the pain resumed when I continued walking. In handling this prayerfully, I consciously recognized my identity, structure, and functionality as expressing the nature of divine Life, or God, not subject to any physical circumstance.

The pain went away almost immediately, although it would come back if I diverted my attention to other things. So I continued thinking prayerfully for the remainder of the hike, with no discomfort — and at the same time I enjoyed the alpine wilderness. Since then, I’ve had no repeat of the condition, even though I’ve continued hiking up and down slopes in steep terrain. As we read in the Psalms, “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace.”

It’s a joy to rely on my relationship with the divine. It’s not just something that involves an occasional result of chance, but a reliance on the good that is God: that is, on spiritual laws that, when understood and applied, make all the difference in our daily lives. How gratifying it is that we can use these spiritual laws to bring fast relief when faced with unpleasant situations.

About the author

Guest We are pleased to present Notes from the Field authors, who are assistant committees and church members in the Southern California region; and Notes from The Mother Church authors, who are Committees from the United States and around the world, as well as the Federal Committee on Publication office.


  1. Mary Lou MacKenzie says

    Thank you for writing. It’s so nice to know that we have the availability of prayer with us at all times to heal, where ever we are or whatever we are doing, even on a hike to San Jacinto.

  2. says

    Thank you Graham, for your article! I also experienced a healing of altitude sickness when staying at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon a few years ago. Knowing that we always have help right where we are, has been a provable truth for me and my family for many decades. What a comfort to know that God really is near to help and heal, whatever the challenge!

  3. Rhonda says

    Thank you for yet another testimony to the effectiveness of prayer based on God’s laws of life, truth and love, His allness and His love for his children. We can trust “Our Father, which art in heaven.” Everyone should really try it. You’ll like it!

  4. Pamela says

    Thanks Graham, to keep our focus on God during times of discomfort or injury is truly helpful and brings about healing for whatever is causing us pain or distress. Most people will agree that God is “a very present help” in times of trouble.

  5. Sue says

    Thank you, Graham. I especially liked you observation of needing to stay focused in your praying. It reminds me of something Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, says in her book, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.”

  6. Cassie says

    Graham, thanks so much for the beautifully written account of your inspiring example of spiritually effective prayer in healing hiking difficulties. I especially appreciate your experience having had a similar one this past weekend that’s still needing prayerful attention. I love how you spiritually reasoned about your identity, structure and functionality as expressing the nature of divine Life or God. It reminds me of the value of acknowledging that as God’s expression, man is the functioning presence of all-harmonious Mind, God. Thanks again for sharing your spiritual experience and victory.