By Laura Moliter
Austin, Texas. Music capital of the world. Great quality of life. Mild climate and sunny skies. Beautiful and inviting surroundings for recreation. A wonderful place to raise a family. Allergy capital of the world.
One of these things is not like the other!
Our city, Austin, repeatedly ranks top ten in the country in so many categories. People swarm to move here, and it continues to grow by leaps and bounds. It’s definitely an easy place to like and has no want for fans. But there is always that little alert that seems to come with the invitation to be a part of the Austin family: “Look out for the allergies! They are wicked! If they don’t get you right away, don’t get too comfortable. They will!”
Well, that’s kind of a mood breaker, isn’t it? Are we being set up for trouble, just opening that door wide for eventual problems, accepting them as a fact of life in this awesome city, as a necessary evil? Are we either bracing ourselves for an onslaught of personal challenges, small or large, or at the very least expecting others around us to suffer or feeling sorry for them when they seem to be sneezing, coughing, and sniffling through certain seasons?
Well, I say enough is enough! I’m now really ready to take that item off our list of Austin characteristics and add some refreshing new mottos and marks of distinction. How about these: Austin, Texas–Atmosphere Divine; Austin, Texas–Take a deep breath, relish the aroma of natural goodness, and smile!
When I came to Austin for the first time to go to college back in the late 1980s, I immediately fell in love with city’s charms, its eccentricities, its amusing weirdness, and its glorious beauty. It was my new home without a moment’s hesitation. I found something so right and satisfying about the air and its fresh scents and warm and inviting way. Even the hot summers somehow simply seemed to only be a wonderful expression of Austin’s warm and sunny embrace.
Then one day the romance died. Or at least the bloom was off the rose, so to speak. I had moved away for a few years. After I had been back a year or so with gratitude to be “home,” a new acquaintance came into my life, much to my annoyance: his name was Cedar Fever. Gosh, I had felt so superior, so exempt, so protected from such a thing. I’m not an “allergy person,” I thought, “I’m a Christian Scientist. And a Yankee! I’ve endured Wisconsin winters and New York City’s bluster. I’m untouchable by this silly stuff.”
Well, did I end up eating crow or what? And I kind of felt like I was literally eating it, to be honest! The experience was awful.
That was my original bout with cedar fever several years ago, and while it was eventually conquered by prayer (and endurance!), it tortured me for several long weeks. I remember on that New Year’s Eve going out to a fancy dinner with my family, dressed to the nines, with my eyes gummed together so I could barely open them, croaking all the way. Happy New Year! Whoopee!
Again, I had certainly diligently prayed about it, found inspiration, kept my practice going in spite of the loss of my voice for period of time, and emerged victorious in the end. A few years went by and while I’d get a little scratchy feeling in my throat once in a while, the suggestion got beaten back very quickly by acknowledging God’s power over all, and I was back to my sunny Austin business.
Well, this year, the arrogant cedar came back for a rematch. After having just helped a family member conquer her short-lived bout with this aggressive demon, I found myself croaking and sniffing, sleeping little and feeling depleted and disappointed. On top of it all (and perhaps most challenging to me) I had an upcoming performance with a band that I sing with, a special surprise for some family members who were in town briefly. Other invitees included a bunch of friends, with the list of expected attendees continuing to grow along with my fear. It was a very special event, and I wanted it to be just right. The pressure was on!
Well, I immediately starting praying about it, acknowledging the rightness of the activity, and my exemption from a belief that “this atmosphere of mortal mind [could] be destructive to morals and health when it is opposed promptly and persistently by Christian Science.” (Science and Health 273: 31-1) As rehearsals and the performance came closer, I called a practitioner to help support me. She eased my fear, and reminded me that breath and breathing was inspiration, and letting go. That seemed important. Especially the “letting go” part. I started to gain some mental freedom, and enough physical freedom to croak through a rehearsal. I thanked God and then went back to fretting about the show, tossing and turning to find comfort in the night, and along the way gratefully receiving inspiration and assurances that in spite of appearances, all was well. I kept trying to “let go.” The “trying” part kind of defeated the purpose!
On the day of the performance, I had one of my busiest practice days. I was almost constantly on the phone, sharing truths with those in need, praying with them, and enjoying every energizing moment of it! I was grateful that MY practitioner was continuing to support me, and that my family members—one who was hosting the event and another who was my singing partner–remained absolutely confident that I would nail it! Okay, I think I can let go now.
Performance time came. I had hardly sung in days. I had no idea what to expect, but I was mentally ready, charged up, grateful to God, for the work that kept me voicing Truth all day long, and countless miles away from complaint, excuses, and fear.
The first notes that came out as I sang the first song were lovely and free! I felt like I was listening and not singing at all, just hearing God’s approving and tender and powerful voice. Victory! The rest of the show only got better—more joyous, more inspired, and more free. I was elated, and so grateful that my only struggle was trying not to cry mid-song for the sheer love of God’s goodness and power. I recognized as I was singing and looking back later, that the love in the room, the appreciation for being there, was the reflected love of God, and it, along with that love I had felt all day in the work that I was doing for others, absolutely negated the allergy and its aggressiveness. Love just cancelled it out. It was a true atmosphere divine. Love was the motive and the recipient. Love was the reason and the expression. Divine Love had its day and its way!
I want to mention how thankful I am, too, that the readings in church on the Wednesday before our Thursday performance were right on target. God was definitely lining all things up for a significant healing. The citations handled the very suggestion confronting our city and me, and reminded me that the breath of the Almighty is the very substance of life, all life. It is invariable and not localized. It’s neither confined to a place nor reliant on a physical structure or mechanism for proper expression.
No percentages and readouts and media predictions can have more power than God and His presence, action, and Love. The report from heaven is consistently heavenly! And we are always dwelling there– not in a city with some necessary evil, but in the city of God, always safe, comfortable, satisfying. I love that I was able to celebrate this abiding truth in song, and I intend to keep on singing! Won’t you join me, Austin, Texas?
Laura Moliter is a practitioner, writer, and singer-songwriter living in Austin, TX.