In 1886, a frail and sickly young woman known as Myrtle Fillmore attended a lecture by Dr. E. B. Weeks. Myrtle was a woman with great faith and what she described as “… decidedly eclectic religious beliefs.” But her long struggle with tuberculosis had taken its toll, and she was searching for a miracle. At the lecture, Myrtle heard an intriguing idea. She heard that she was a divine child of God and that she had not inherited illness. She knew that she was a child of God and was made in God’s image and likeness. But never before had she considered that illness was not her birthright, that human limitation was not her true nature.
Through that experience, Myrtle embarked on a spiritual journey that led her to a complete recovery from tuberculosis and the development of a prayer ministry that would become, Silent Unity, a 24/7 prayer ministry that is still operating today (1-800-NOW-PRAY). This journey would ultimately inspire Myrtle and her husband Charles to co-found, Unity School for Religious Studies, the birthplace of the Unity Movement.
Myrtle had great faith. She had strong, if “eclectic” religious beliefs. But it was a newfound awareness of her spiritual nature that lead her to health and wholeness. Research tells us that people who attend regular religious services tend to live longer, suggesting that religion may improve one’s health. Other research indicates that a daily spiritual practice such as meditation tends to increase health, improve concentration, lower blood pressure, and provide one with a sense of overall well-being.
What is it about religion and spirituality that improves our health? And why did Myrtle Fillmore not experience healing simply by being a woman with strong religious beliefs?
Religion is defined as a set of beliefs often including traditions, doctrine and practices. Some of these beliefs may simply provide a moral compass that encourages participants to live a healthier lifestyle which translates to a longer, healthier life.
But Spirituality goes further. Spirituality opens our hearts and minds to the sacred and the Divine. A spiritual journey is a quest for deeper understanding that transcends doctrine or tradition and leads us to understanding that we are “of Spirit.” And, being “of Spirit,” we are already whole, already complete in the Mind of God. A spiritual practice such as affirmative prayer and meditation assists us in recognizing this Truth and bringing forth wholeness into our human experience.
This is what Myrtle Fillmore discovered, that she was “of Spirit;” that she was a “Perfect child of God who had not inherited illness.” That discovery and the spiritual journey that followed brought forth wholeness in Myrtle’s life and it can do the same for us. We are perfect children of God and we have inherited wholeness.
Rev. Eileen Patra is the senior minister at Unity of Livonia. Unity of Livonia is affiliated with Unity Worldwide Ministries, Daily Word Magazine, Silent Unity and Unity School for Religious Studies.