It was fall. I was driving home from a friend’s cross-country meet. It was one of those gorgeous days that you just want to enjoy each vista and falling leaf. A sign for a prairie preserve called to me as I drove down the highway. Glad to get out and walk the paths- I remember it as a prayerful time.
On my way back to the highway there was a simple sign for a local orchard and pumpkin patch. Meandering further down the road, I was surprised to find this little autumnal oasis complete with barn animals!
The pumpkin I selected is the variety known as “Cinderella”- red orange with deep grooves and good for cooking. This pumpkin became a symbol of God’s provision, bounty, spontaneous joy at a time when I really needed that promise.
This fall I started a painting of the pumpkin. Though I studied art in college, every time I sit down to do a painting or a drawing it starts out well but there comes a point in the middle of the project when I’m faced with an almost COSMIC lethargy, restlessness, or inadequacy.
In life, I often find that it takes spiritual courage more than a self will to persist through these doldrums- to go back to the simplicity and purity of my original objective. In this case my objective was to pray as I painted- to honor God’s care for me and for all. In essence I was working to be Mind-ful.
So what is that yucky, frustrated, stagnant feeling that comes when you are in the process of great work/relationships?
Mary Baker Eddy calls this transformation “chemicalization” in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
Here are a few excerpts…
“By chemicalization I mean the process which mortal mind and body undergo in the change of belief from a material to a spiritual basis.” (SH 168:32)
“What I term chemicalization is the upheaval produced when immortal Truth is destroying erroneous mortal belief. Mental chemicalization brings sin and sickness to the surface, forcing impurities to pass away, as is the case with a fermenting fluid.” (SH 401:16)
“In moral chemicalization, when the symptoms of evil, illusion, are aggravated, we may think in our ignorance that the Lord hath wrought an evil; but we ought to know that God’s law uncovers so-called sin and its effects, only that Truth may annihilate all sense of evil and all power to sin.” (SH 540:11)
What resonates with me about chemicalization is that it’s not a threatening process. It’s like a snake that’s shedding its skin. I’ve outgrown the old and am ready for the new! As we grow spiritually we inevitably outgrow old ways of doing things and thinking about things. I’ve seen in my life that through the “upheaval” God is present- it’s not so much that God is stirring up the muddy waters to punish but make space for new, fresh, diviner thoughts.
Mary Baker Eddy has this to say as well…
“The human heart, like a feather bed, needs often to be stirred, sometimes roughly, and given a variety of turns, else it grows hard and uncomfortable whereon to repose.” (Miscellaneous Writings 127:31)
So this fluffing and fermenting is safe as it has a holy purpose. Chemicalization is an irreversible change- when we understand something- we can’t slip backwards. In science chemicalization reminds me of process called a chemical change. Baking is an example of a chemical change. When I bake banana bread I don’t worry about the flour, sugar, etc. separating after it’s been in the oven. It has a new structure or form.
In the Bible- Jacob experienced chemicalization when he wrestled with the angel. His persistence to know God brought about a significant name change to Israel. (Genesis 32:24)
I love these lessons that I’m learning from painting, picking pumpkins, and travel. I’m learning to not fear these occasions- to shed the old ways of thinking gratefully. God is good, the source of wholeness, bounty, and spontaneous joy.