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  • Erin A.D. Fisher, C.S.

The Furnace Guy, the Wrench, & the Analogy

So, the furnace guy came to my house today to clean my furnace. By the time he left, I had a new analogy for what the healing practice is like . . . but it’s probably not what you’d expect.

The furnace maintenance proceeded as planned, and as the visit was winding down, the furnace guy came into my office and presented me with the bill. While I was filling out a check, he somewhat sheepishly offered that although the furnace was fine, he had to admit that he lost a small, black wrench in my front yard when he dropped a few of his tools. He said he found the other tools, but he couldn’t find the wrench because of all the leaves. He said he would look again on his way out. And it wasn’t that he was concerned for the wrench’s sake — he had others he could use — but he really didn’t want anyone to get hurt the next time we mowed the lawn. Admiring his selflessness, I immediately offered to help him, and a moment later we were both outside looking.

Naturally, I was praying. Usually when I’m praying about something I’ve dropped and can’t find, it goes a little something like this: I keep taking the logical human steps of scanning the area I think the object might be in. But while I do that, I affirm that divine Mind, God, knows where everything in Her universe is. As the reflection, daughter, of this Mind, I can know where the item is if I truly need to find it — and I leave that up to God’s discretion, trusting my needs will be met either way. Then I acknowledge that it won’t be my scanning eyes or fingertips that find it, but rather that God will give me the intuition that causes me to notice it. One time this helped me find my bicycle after it was stolen — but that’s a whole other story!

So, back to the furnace guy. As soon as I stepped outside, an “if only” attempted to distract me. “If only he’d taken the front steps, not come through the yard—then he would’ve heard the wrench fall.” SWAT! That suggestion wasn’t helpful at all, so I dismissed it. Then the suggestion came that maybe we didn’t even need to worry about it: “The mowers the lawn crew uses are pretty heavy duty; the wrench probably wouldn’t hurt the guys or the mowers.” SWAT! Apathy had no more place in my thought than blaming; another suggestion dismissed. Then blame tried again: “If only you’d had him come in through the garage, not the front door, he’d have heard it drop.” SWAT! Nice try, but I’m really not going there. With that cleared up, I moved forward.

I followed him back down the path he walked up to the front door, but after a couple of close sweeps, the wrench was nowhere in sight. I commented on the color of it. “So, it’s a black wrench, huh? We’re not even gonna get a glint of sunlight to help us find it.” That’s when I turned wholeheartedly to divine Mind and stopped relying on our material eyes.

I got the feeling that the wrench wasn’t in the yard. So I gently asked him if maybe it fell out before the other tools, and was actually still in his van. He said he’d already checked but would check again. I admired his humility. I kept scanning the yard, moving leaves with my feet. It wasn’t that I was expecting to find the wrench that way anymore, but it seemed the best way to show compassion yet stay quiet so I could keep praying. Maybe that’s part of why Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dirt in the incident with the adulterous woman. (See John 8:1-11.) Anyway, furnace guy didn’t find the wrench in the van. So we went back to shuffling through the leaves.

After about another minute, it came to me pretty strongly that the wrench was not in the yard. Quiet words came out of my mouth: “Maybe it just isn’t here.” And as I started thinking of asking him if maybe he could’ve left the wrench at the house he’d been to before mine, I found myself doing a quarter-turn, and my eyes looking to a spot just under the rear bumper of the van. Right at a small, black wrench. No scanning — my eyes went straight there. Then, for some reason, rather than walk over to pick it up myself, I pointed to it and asked, “Is that the wrench?” With a look of amazement and a big smile, he said it was, and that he probably would’ve backed right over it and never seen it. He apologized that I had to help him, but I just replied, “No problem — it was fun!”

As I was rejoicing in this demonstration, I immediately noticed how this experience could serve as an analogy for a practitioner-patient experience: The call for help. Both parties humble and dedicated to finding a solution. The practitioner maintaining the patient’s spiritual innocence, expressing compassion, listening so she can see past misguided human reason, beyond human outlining of how the solution would come — something I'm now calling "looking in the leaves." God guiding the practitioner to the truth that dispels the illusion. And — my favorite — the practitioner holding the truth in thought, pointing the way for the patient, but allowing him to recognize it for himself and claim the victory.

What a joy it is to demonstrate the power of God in the little things — and to let Him teach us how He works in all things.

Embosomed deep in Thy dear love,

Held in Thy law, I stand:

Thy hand in all things I behold,

And all things in Thy hand.

Thou leadest me by unsought ways,

Thou turn’st my mourning into praise.

(Samuel Longfellow, Christian Science Hymnal, #134)

Posted Monday, November 10, 2014, on Thoughts of Peace.

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