Josephine Woodbury

In 1899, Mrs. Eddy's Communion address referred to the Babylonish woman in the Apocalypse. It read in part:     "...This woman..."drunk with the wine of her fornication," would enter even the church, - the body of Christ, Truth; and, retaining the heart of the harlot and the purpose of the destroying angel, would pour wormwood into the water - the disturbed human mind - to drown the strong swimmer struggling for the shore, - aiming for Truth, - and if possible, to poison such as drink of the living water."

Little wonder that Josephine Woodbury took this passage to herself, for by her own admission she had influenced or poisoned the thoughts of many and turned them away from Christian Science.

Josephine Woodbury once wrote to Mrs. Eddy confessing her sins. "...I think I never suffered as I suffer now when I am beginning to understand you. Every time I see you it is harder to bear - this great chasm between your life and mine, and only because you are so gentle do I dare try to undo what I have helped to do in the past."

One morning as our dear Teacher sat writing letters, she called me (Clara Shannon) and said "To whom do you think I have just written?" From the look on her face I said, "I suppose someone to whom no one else would write!" And then she said, "It is to [Josephine Woodbury], and I have invited her to come and see me. I have given her two days from which to select the time most convenient to her, and have asked her to telegraph and let me know the day." She read the letter through to me and told me to enclose a stamped telegraph form. I said, "Oh! Mother, how could you write to her when you know she is doing all she can to harm you, and not hiding it but talking about it?" She said to me, "You must learn to love that woman." I said, "Do you love her?" "Yes! and I am trying to bless her! If you and I do not love her, who can or will?"

To that letter Mrs. Eddy received no reply. When the second day named came, before going out for her drive she put on her special best dress and ordered the carriage to be at the door to take her for her driver an hour earlier than usual, in order to be home early before her guest arrived. Before leaving, our Leader ordered another carriage to be sent to the station to meet her. Just as she was putting on her gloves, before entering her carriage she called me from my writing and said, "Will you promise something?" I said, "Of course, I will if it is something I can do." She said, "If Mrs. [Woodbury] comes before I return, I want you to greet her kindly." I said, "Yes, Mother, I will." Then she said, "Lovingly?" with a note of interrogation in her voice. My answer was, "I will try!" Then she said, "Just heavenly?" I answered, "I will go upstairs and ask God to help me to do that -- to show me how." Lastly she repeated, "Now remember what I say, kindly, lovingly, just heavenly."

I went to my room and prayed very earnestly to Divine Love to help me, for as it was right for her to feel that, it was right for me to manifest it. In a short time I felt such a desire that she would come, because I knew what a blessing there was awaiting her through an interview with our Leader and great good would result.

Our Leader returned from her drive an hour earlier than usual, and when she got out of her carriage she said, "Has she come yet?" I said, "No, Mother." "Never mind," she said, "I will wait in the drawing room for her." In the meantime the carriage had been sent a second and a third time to meet three trains in succession. The last time it was too late and too dark for her to have come, and our Leader sat in the parlor waiting till then; after which, she rose to return to her sitting room, and said, "Oh! what a benediction of love she would have received! It would have saved and comforted her!" I too felt sorry for her to have lost such an opportunity and a great blessing. I learned a lesson of love such as I have never forgotten.