As I outline briefly in my Bio, I have traveled a few different spiritual paths in my life. At one point I was an itinerant organist/choir director and ended up with a regular gig in a part of town that had undergone great changes over the years.
In the decades of my childhood, one of these churches had been a place of power. The families of executives in the busy industries all around the city filled the Sunday School classrooms and pews of this church. Its building and amenities – though dated by the time I was working with them as an organist – told a story of robust giving, deep support and a once-thriving congregation. It now sat in the midst of a neighborhood in decline as the demographics of the area have shifted significantly since this church was a centerpiece of power in the community.
A few years after I had wandered into New Thought, I encountered one of the friends I made during that time. She had grown up in that church, and rubbed elbows with the children of the industry titans. Like me, she also had an academic-level curiosity about the drastic changes taking place in the church and neighborhood.
The clergy and members of that church, she shared; thought that holy righteousness was on their side, and that they were invincible.
“People forget,” she said to me, “that rain falls equally on the just AND the unjust.”
One of the hallmark moments of Jesus’ teaching life was his Sermon on the Mount, recounted best in the Christian Bible in Matthew (chapter 5). While many teachers recall the lessons of the salt and the light as well as the popular and multi-interpreted beatitudes; the statement toward the end of chapter 5 is sometimes lost.
44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
New Thought and spiritual metaphysical teachings have done a stellar job on the first part of these verses: the concept of openness, acceptance and love is a strong suit of the movements that align with New Thought philosophy and they have a lot they could teach traditional Christian (& other) religious groups.
It’s that last part of verse 45 where I begin to see a challenge to some New Thought teachings. In this verse Jesus says very plainly that [God] makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
In metaphysical parlance, this reads as follows:
The sun will shine on those with and without a right consciousness and it will rain on those with a right consciousness as well as those without one.
In other words, regardless of our consciousness, we are all going to experience good things in life as well as things that are hard, painful and unfair. In the same holy book that we point to when teaching tithing, an ancient truth lays out very clearly that a good consciousness and a not-so-good consciousness are going to bring us a variety of ups & downs in life.
“Rain” is going to fall on us at times, regardless of our consciousness.
This is not to say that we should entirely give up on consciousness: a positive attitude, and an orientation toward things working out for the highest benefit to all is a good thing. It does mean that as teachers and leaders, we must not slip into a position where we counsel people experiencing some of life’s “rain” that it’s their consciousness that needs to be fixed. Instead we must learn how to simply “be” with someone when they are hurting.
Holding a hand, giving a hug, saying nothing other than “I’m so sorry for what you are going through” and asking how we can support them through the challenge is how it’s done right. Most people aren’t looking for a quick fix to their troubles; they just want to know that they’re not alone.
People in pain need support, compassion and (if they desire) spiritual tools that can help them walk through the rain that will fall on us all – not a reminder that they just aren’t “getting it (consciousness) right” when it comes to spiritual things.
So let us continue to teach the many benefits of metaphysical principles while walking compassionately with others through all of life’s challenges. Strong spiritual communities are built on a foundation of caring for each other when the sun is shining, when it’s raining, and all the days in between.