This short excerpt is taken from a longer work profiling a number of early Christian Science workers who assisted Mary Baker Eddy in establishing Christian Science. Read their stories in full in Paths of Pioneer Christian Scientists.
At the age of three, Janette Weller’s life was turned upside-down when her parents separated and she was sent away to live with an aunt. But through Christian Science and her friendship with Mary Baker Eddy, she not only found the sense of love and home she yearned for, but a fulfilling life of service.
On a spring day in 1884, Janette Eastman Weller1 walked up to the front door of 571 Columbus Ave., rang the doorbell, then stood back and waited.
A few weeks earlier, this New Hampshire school teacher, then in her mid-forties, awoke one morning to find herself completely healed of tuberculosis after twenty years of suffering. She knew exactly what had brought about this healing. She had spent the previous three weeks studying a new book she had just bought, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.
“Free as a bird,” as she now referred to herself, Mrs. Weller decided to go find the book’s author, a trip that took her from her home in Littleton, New Hampshire, 160 miles south to Boston and to the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, where Mrs. Eddy taught Christian Science. When the door opened, Mrs. Weller was allowed inside, but only to speak to one of Mrs. Eddy’s students. Mrs. Eddy herself was not to be disturbed. While talking to this student, Mrs. Weller asked many questions about this “new” method of Christian healing. The student answered them, then ushered her back toward the front door, where she was given an opportunity to see a portrait of Mrs. Eddy in the reception room of the College.
As they entered the room, there on a chair sat Mary Baker Eddy herself. “Walk right in,” Mrs. Eddy said, reaching out her hand in welcome. “What a power of mind it was that brought me downstairs. I was at my desk, writing as busily as ever I was in my life, when, suddenly, I laid aside my pen, came down here and waited – I did not know what for.”2 Then ensued a conversation, at the end of which came an invitation for Weller to join Mrs. Eddy’s next class.
The life of this New England schoolteacher turned tailor’s seamstress was turned yet again that day onto a new path, a path that would lead her to take three courses of instruction on Christian Science with its Discoverer and Founder: Primary class, beginning on September 2, 1884; Obstetrics class, beginning December 5, 1887; and Normal class, on May 21, 1889. In these classes, she would be shown the scientific system of Christian healing — the system that had healed her, and was transforming her life.
Later, as a prominent New England practitioner of Christian Science, Mrs. Weller would become one of the early proponents of this system, helping to lay foundation stones of Christian Science in northern New Hampshire, Philadelphia, and Binghamton, New York. She preached at Christian Science services in Littleton, New Hampshire, and taught the first class in Christian Science in Spokane, Washington.
From the time of her move to Boston in March of 1893, however, Mrs. Weller focused on her work as a practitioner and teacher, although Mrs. Eddy would call upon her for special tasks, from caring for a relative, to gathering copies of Mrs. Eddy’s articles from The Christian Science Journal for publication in Miscellaneous Writings.3
Mary Baker Eddy had hundreds of loyal students, and as the Christian Science movement grew, she had many thousands who called her Leader. But there were few that she herself could call friend. Janette Weller was one of them.
As Mrs. Weller returned to her New Hampshire home that day from this first meeting with Mrs. Eddy in 1884, she knew one thing for certain: Jesus’ promise, “seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you,”4 had just proven itself true. A door had opened and Mrs. Weller had walked through. She knew she was now taking some of her first steps in a new place, a place that she sensed held great promise.
Perhaps this is what St. Paul meant by being made new in Christ.5