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.