Shall the dust praise thee?
From the Christian Science Sentinel, August 24, 1918, by Hortense W. Lewis
Christian Science reveals to mankind the very nature of God as Spirit, and man as His spiritual likeness. Why then write about dust? Why think about it? Why, indeed? Why have daily dusting in house and office? Why use vacuum cleaner, brooms, and what not? The answer is, To remove the dust; to clean the house. Back of the use of the vacuum cleaner, underlying the use of the duster, is the recognition that to mortal sense there is something valueless, something which needs to be, and must and can be, removed.
In Christian Science we learn what it means to be God’s image and likeness, what it means for man to be so like God, so to express the divine nature, that we cannot think of God without thinking of man, cannot think of Mind without thinking of man, the expression or manifestation of Mind. Through Christian Science the glory, might, beauty, majesty, power, perfection, immutability, and allness of divine Principle are revealed; and as one studies and works, spiritual facts are understood; one’s grasp of spiritual reality grows greater and greater; and along with this perception of the real and eternal there necessarily come the discernment and the detection of the false, material, and untrue. Could anyone detect an error in mathematics unless he knew mathematical facts? That two plus two equals five may seem true to one who knows nothing of mathematics; but the mathematician cannot be deceived by any such statement, for he knows that two plus two is invariably four. So in Christian Science, with the recognition that Life, substance, and intelligence are spiritual, comes the discovery that there can be no intelligence, substance, or life in, or because of, or as, matter; indeed, as the spiritual foundation of all things is understood, the belief of material foundation, cause, and structure appears as mental dust to be cast out of the house, cast out of human consciousness as worthless, valueless.
On page 584 of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mrs. Eddy defines dust as “nothingness; the absence of substance, life, or intelligence;” and surely nothingness is not that which can satisfy or attract man, or which can frighten man as the reflection of intelligence, the expression of substance, and the evidence of Life. Dust is valueless to man, but in Genesis we read that God said to the serpent, “Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.” “And dust shall be the serpent’s meat,” is the statement made by Isaiah. It is only as we become conscious of the somethingness, indeed the allness of the spiritual, of Mind and its manifestation, that we detect the deception of that serpent, which is fully defined on page 594 of Science and Health for our enlightenment and protection.
Understanding the allness of Principle, the utter nothingness of every claim of matter, of every hypnotic suggestion, of everything tending to rob man of his right to think so clearly, intelligently, and correctly that he refuses to be beguiled and to eat of the lies of mortal mind, the truth of being becomes a demonstrable fact. Christian Science awakens mankind to the fact that all sin, all disease, and even death can and must be proved nothingness,—no cause, no effect, no law, no tendency, no power, no entity, no condition, no experience,—merely dust.
We are good housekeepers, keepers of good consciousness, in so far as we shut out the dust of sin, of selfishness, personal ambition, human pride, and so on, and sweep out the lawless beliefs of age, of limitation, of fatigue,—all that is finite, material, or mortal. Are we carefully watching our thinking, and reducing to nothingness the false claims of temperament and disposition which we had accepted as our own thinking, our very nature; or are we disturbed, annoyed, perchance frightened, by sin and disease in others? A parent may be anxious over some tendency a child is showing, or some one may be assailed with dark forebodings of danger and harm befalling son, brother, sweetheart, husband, in the trenches, on the ocean, or in the air. If so, there is just one thing to do,—so to maintain God’s allness, omnipotence, and omnipresence, so to maintain Mind’s ceaseless, incessant, perpetual government of man, that all suggestion to the contrary is shaken as dust from one’s consciousness. Yes, shaken, in obedience to the command, “Shake thyself from the dust;” for it takes mental vigor, tireless, insistent, and persistent clinging to the supremacy of divine Principle; it takes prayer such as Jesus used, “whose humble prayers” Mrs. Eddy tells us (Science and Health, p. 12) “were deep and conscientious protests of Truth,—of man’s likeness to God and of man’s unity with Truth and Love.”
The ignoring, fearing, loving, or excusing of evil will never prove its nothingness. Jesus gave a valuable rule to all his followers when he said: “And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.”
“Let your peace return to you;” “Shake off the dust”! These two commands being obeyed there is no chance there for resentment, for anger, malice, bitterness, grief, or sorrow. We cannot dignify the dust by talking about it, thinking about it, weeping about it, being hurt over it, and then realize that it is nothing. “Christian Scientists,” writes Mrs. Eddy on page 114 of “Miscellaneous Writings,” “cannot watch too sedulously, or bar their doors too closely, or pray to God too fervently, for deliverance from the claims of evil. … Rest assured that God in His wisdom will test all mankind on all questions; and then, if found faithful, He will deliver us from temptation and show us the powerlessness of evil,—even its utter nothingness.” Truly might the psalmist ask, “Shall the dust praise thee?”