Getting in Tune
From the October 1902 issue of the Christian Science Journal by Mary Chidester Barber
One night I went early to an orchestral concert and, as I sat waiting, the members of the orchestra filed in and began to tune their instruments all at the same time. The result was most discordant, and if I had not known the meaning of it all, I should have run away. But, knowing what was to come, I patiently awaited the beautiful music which they were soon to make, and as I waited there came the thought: Is not all this typical of the condition we are in at this hour of growth? These men tuning their different instruments seem to be working in hopeless confusion but they are not, for each one has in mind the one key-note with which his instrument must be in harmony. To this end, he must give individual attention, not listen to his neighbor’s tuning and so imperil the accuracy of his own, but must keep in the chambers of thought that one steady tone. His business for the moment is that, only that. Faithful to that seemingly small duty, he will be ready, when the moment arrives, to take his part in the symphony of sound whose perfectness depends upon the quality of each and all the contributions.
So our friends of the orchestra sit in perfect calm, in spite of the sensitiveness of the musical ear and the proverbial impatience of the musician with discordant sounds. They know that all this scraping and tooting is only the preparation for the beautiful concerted work that is soon to come. Through years of patient labor, of hard, faithful, isolated, individual practice in the basic laws and rules both of music in general and of his own special instrument, each man has been preparing himself for this hour. He cannot do another’s playing, but the more perfect he can make his own work, the higher does he raise the standard of general excellence and so encourage others to follow and even surpass him.
In a letter to the Board of Lectureship, published in the Sentinel some time ago, our Leader says: “Improve every opportunity to correct sin through your own perfectness.” This is the key-note. At present, in this tuning up stage of growth, many of these human instruments that are one day to make divine music, but are now only striving to reach pitch, may have suffered from service and be in need of overhauling and repairing. Many heart-strings may have been broken, and they can be replaced only through the tender offices of divine Love. But ahead is the perfection divinely commanded: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
It remains for us to follow this command, and the eventual realization of this perfection is imperative upon each one. Indolence and self-indulgence may delay its attainment, but cannot block the way forever.
We rarely remember, while we talk of Jesus as the great exemplar, that the full import of that phrase is just what St. John expresses when he says: “But we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” Plainly he has not yet appeared to us. Not being like him, it is clear that we have not yet seen him as he is, though Christian Science is helping us to know that we shall yet see him.
Perfection is our Holy Grail, the cup that Jesus drank, the cup of spiritual discernment and attainment which the angels of God, the messages from the one Mind, bear aloft above human sense, always out of reach until we rise above material sensuousness and live constantly in the pure atmosphere of Soul. Then comes our transfiguration after “the goal of goodness and Love is assiduously earned and won” (Science and Health, p. 233). But it must be earned. “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”
Perfection, now seen through Christian Science to be attainable by way of that strait path called spiritual sense, is called forth by motives that ring out above mortality’s discords, and that keep before us the great triumph that is ours now, if only we are ready to take it.
One of these motives is from Isaiah (26 :3): “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee.”
Another is from David (Psalm 91): “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
Jesus, the way-shower, uttered yet another: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
Spiritual living is a hard yoke and a heavy burden to the human, but only by bearing this yoke do we win the reward, rest unto our souls; only by being “stayed” upon God, by trusting infinite Good, do we have the “perfect peace,” that every mortal longs for. To “abide under the shadow of the Almighty,” we must dwell “in the secret place of the most High,” where every idea of God lives forever—not for a limited time—in its own inalienable place, God-given. These are the conditions upon which alone we are to have the rest, peace, and permanence, the very thought of which fills the human soul with unsung melodies that cheer and uplift.
If our friends of the orchestra had listened to the antecedent discord, they would not have been ready for the conductor’s baton when it summoned them to the symphony. And for us to dwell upon the present condition of human thought, upon the strife and confusion, the pride, envy, jealousy, ambition, and other weaknesses still manifested in humanity, would be to divert thought from the path that leads to the heights of spiritual consciousness.
That these heights are not inaccessible, Jesus showed when he said: “I go to prepare a place for you, … that where I am, there ye may be also.”
Knowing this, we can go on undisturbed amid the discords of the mortal concept of life, until we reach a full apprehension of the Life that is God, and of the concord that is the eternal heritage of the sons of God. This is Soul’s symphony.