“The lives of great men and women are miracles of patience and perseverance,” Mary Baker Eddy.
A woman much ahead of her time, Mary Baker Eddy is a pioneer with few parallels. Her work spans subjects often considered mutually exclusive - theology and medicine. She was a teacher, an author, and a publisher long before women even had the right to vote in this country!
Such feats were not easy to achieve – certainly not in the nineteenth century! Mrs. Eddy was born in 1821 in Bow, New Hampshire. Plagued by ill-health through most of her life and widowed within a year of her marriage, Mrs. Eddy turned to her faith for the strength and support to move forward. Like her famous words, her miraculous life and achievements were a testimony to her perseverance in the face of such daunting odds.
Contrary to the norm, Mrs. Eddy did not blindly follow the practices of the church. She studied, tested, discussed, and wrote about her faith and experiences. Her theological position often made her extremely unpopular with many sections of society. For instance, she believed that the God of Christianity is feminine as well as masculine. She was ridiculed and faced harsh criticism for her work.
Mrs. Eddy founded the religious movement in the 19th century, Christian Science, which is popular to this day. She authored and revised the principal text for the Christian Science movement, Science and Health with Key to Scriptures. At the age of was 87, she founded The Christian Science Monitor, “a global newspaper that provides balanced, humane coverage of world news.” In the age of rampant sensationalism, the publication stands out for its exemplary global news coverage and has won seven Pulitzers so far.
Quote: Health is not a condition of matter, but of Mind
More than a century after she passed in 1910, her work is still relevant, or perhaps more relevant today. Increasingly, those in the healing profession are pondering and examining the role played by the mind in a person’s health. As concern for mental health catches up with the emphasis given to physical health, the influence of faith, prayers, meditation, and so-called “new-age” ancient techniques on the physical body are being explored scientifically.
Her contribution to humanity, religion, and the American way of life is indisputable. As one of only eight women on The Atlantic’s 2006 list of “The 100 Most Influential Figures in American History” and a mention in the Smithsonian Magazine’s 2014 list of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” Mrs. Eddy left her indelible mark.
None of this would have come easy to her. She has acknowledged that her life was a “protest against conventional assumptions both in religion and medicine.” Her “protest” has enriched and healed the lives of many. Her willingness and courage to challenge accepted conventions, step into established male domains, and present radical ideas without care for threats and censure is an inspiration to everyone struggling to shatter the proverbial glass ceiling.