As a child I used to walk from my family home to the public library in our small, Indiana town on daily basis. Sometimes more. Along my way I would pass a pretty building with Corinthian columns and a little flower bed out front. The sign in the middle of the flower bed said, "First Church of Christ, Scientist." I never equated this building with the many TV commercials I saw for "The Christian Science Monitor" (whatever that was). I was never too concerned about the building, and it wasn't until many years later that I thought about how much different my life would be, had I wandered in on one of my excursions around our neighborhood. But, as we learn in Science, divine ideas unfold, perfectly. As Mrs. Eddy writes on page 107 of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "God had been graciously preparing me..."
Growing up, I was always interested in history, music and the legal system. When other boys my age aspired to be great athletes or policemen or firemen, I wished to be a history professor or a judge. It was around age 10 that I discovered classical music, and surprisingly, opera. I would move the radio around in my bedroom until I was able to pick up the Public Radio station from 45 miles away to be able to hear classical music through the static. Then, when I was about 15 my parents gave me one of the greatest gifts I've ever received: voice lessons. Each Saturday morning mom would drive me across town to the little studio in a garage behind the Dairy Twist, where I would learn the nuances of support, tone and breath control, from a very patient and talented teacher, as I worked on a piece by Vaughan Williams, Schubert, or, my favorite, Mozart. I became quite accomplished at the great Mozart bass-baritone arias from The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, and others, even winning awards at local and state competitions. My singing continued to improve and I was granted admission and scholarships to a prestigious college of fine arts at in Indianapolis. But, as I was completing my junior year of high school, my father was diagnosed with cancer and given only a short time to live. While his choices for treatment relied upon medical means, he also studied the Bible as long as he was able, and he outlived the short time the doctors had pronounced for him. This event had a deep impact on me, and I discarded the plans I had of attending college, and quite literally became a prodigal son.
At one point I found myself 1,400 miles from home, with no money, no job, no transportation, and depending on the kindness of some acquaintances for food and shelter. It was the kindness of strangers that returned me to Indiana. One provided plane fare, but I had no money for food on the trip home. On a lay-over, I was standing outside a major airport terminal trying to stay awake, when a food truck pulled over to the curb, the driver got out, gave me a piece of pie and said, "You look like you need this." Before I could say a word, he was back in the truck on off on his way. Now, over twenty years later, I see the intricate web that connected all of the dots in these events, and can say unreservedly, as Mrs. Eddy wrote, "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need." (Science and Health, p. 494).
So, fast-forward a few years. After learning some "life lessons," I settled in a small city near where I grew up. The day I moved there I spotted an abandoned, but beautiful "Victorian" home on the same block as my apartment, and knew I had to have that house. A few more years came and went, and one day a "For Sale" sign appeared in front of the house. After numerous phone calls I was finally able to meet the seller and we worked out a temporary rental situation. At the end of three months it was quite clear that I was in over my head. In the meantime I had done some historical research on the home and come to know quite a lot about its first owners. I moved on and a while later I saw a new resident had moved in. I thought it would be a nice gesture and mailed them a copy of the research I had done and thought no more of it. A few weeks later the new owner called to thank me for the documents and invited me to the house. At our meeting I learned that he had purchased the house for his son to live in while attending college, but his son chose the Navy instead, and he was "stuck" with this house, so he chose to live in it and commute to work an hour each way. At length, he put the house up for sale, but when only property managers and developers were interested, he made an offer to me to buy the house. My finances were in no way sufficient to make this purchase, but on the day of closing, with 33-cents to my name, I was given the keys to the house. Again, "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need."
Back in the house I began doing restoration work, and my research continued, to where I found that two daughters of the original owner had been "charter members" of the local branch church, First Church of Christ, Scientist, just two blocks away. One afternoon, out of curiosity and continuing my research, I went to the "Reading Room," in search of what it was these ladies did. I left that day with a book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, (a curious title, I thought), but I also left with a sense of peace that I hadn't known in a very, very long time. As I began to read the book, the ideas were so familiar, like I had always known these things, and other thoughts were illuminated and insight and understanding were sharper. That week I attended their Wednesday evening meeting. The people were all so warm, genuine, and loving. I promised to come again. At this time I was not seeking a church, I was an ardent agnostic, and I enjoyed alcohol and recreational drugs. As time passed, I felt more and more drawn to this way of thought and of life. At one of those first Wednesday meetings, a long-time member approached me, took my hand in hers, looked me in the eye, and said, "You're going to be a practitioner." I had no clue what that was or what that meant, but I could tell it was something she sincerely believed, and that it was a very good thing.