Women of History: Lucy Hays Reynolds

November 18, 2018

Lucy Hays Reynolds (1882–1965) was a prolific writer, whose encounter with Christian Science changed the course of her life. She contributed almost 100 articles to the Christian Science magazines, spanning over 50 years. Several have had particularly enduring appeal, including “Being made over” (The Christian Science Journal, June 1917); “The Glory of the tomb” (April 1931); and “Arise and walk” (February 1945).

Born Lucy Hays Eastman in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, she lived in a variety of places, from Louisiana to upstate New York to Minnesota. Her father, Austin Eastman, was an attorney for the North American Land and Timber Company. Although she attended Smith College, she left the school and did not graduate—perhaps in part because of the highly publicized arrest and trial of her brother, Harvard geology and paleontology professor Charles R. Eastman, accused of murdering his brother-in-law in 1900. Maintaining his innocence, he claimed the death was the result of a target-shooting accident and was acquitted the following year.1

Lucy Eastman’s own trials were more private. In 1907 she wrote, “Five years ago I left college with a severe case of nervous illness and was in a hospital for several weeks. After this there followed three years of invalidism and deepest melancholy.”2 During that time she had a seemingly chance encounter with a woman who said she’d been benefited by Christian Science. This piqued her interest. Subsequently diagnosed with “double curvature of the spine,” she asked a Christian Science practitioner for treatment through prayer. Later she wrote that, after an initial treatment, “the practitioner told [me] to feel perfectly free to rise and walk, pointing out that this freedom was in accordance with the law of God.”3 She found that she was indeed well—pain-free and able to climb stairs again. In 1907 she joined The Mother Church. Her long career as a practitioner listed in The Christian Science Journal began three years later.

In 1914 she married Joseph William Reynolds (1879–1951), also a practitioner. Along with a relative, they shared office space in Portland, Oregon, in a succession of downtown locations. Practitioners often locate in city office buildings to make their ministries more available to patients in a professional setting.

Reynolds’s interest in Christian Science overlapped with the last years of Mary Baker Eddy’s life (1821–1910). While she never met the founder of her religion, she did publish a letter to Eddy in the September 13, 1908, Christian Science Sentinel, confessing an earlier deep desire “to know you personally.” She went on to explain to readers that Eddy’s recent article “Personal Contagion”4 had changed her perspective:

I understood then that it was the recognition of the Principle of this discovery [Christian Science], and not the personality of the Discoverer, which could save the world. And what gratitude we owe her, and how right to prove it through obedience and all possible aid in furthering the advancement and establishment of her discovery!

Following her husband’s passing after 37 years of marriage, Reynolds relocated to the United States East Coast, living in Boston and Princeton, New Jersey. She continued to be a productive author into the last decade of her life, publishing several pieces in the Christian Science magazines during that time.

Lucy Hays Reynolds’s deep familiarity with the Bible is apparent in many of her articles. Insights into human character, its fallibility, and the promise of redemption also color her realistic writing, as seen in this observation from “Being Made Over”:

It is a matter wholly between ourselves and God, this being made over. No one else can
do it for us. Attempting to remodel another after our ideal interferes with God’s law of unfoldment. Rather should we constantly appeal to the spiritual selfhood in others, watching and waiting for it to unfold under God’s direction. Surrendering our personal desires or opinions as to what we should like another to be, and determining to know “no man after the flesh,” we escape the great danger of planning and personally influencing the lives of others.5

Listen to "Women of History from the Mary Baker Eddy Library Archives," a Seekers and Scholars podcast episode featuring Library staffers Steve Graham and Dorothy Rivera.

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  1. Muir, Clark, “Murder at the Observatory,” Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, December 2013.
  2. “I am inexpressibly grateful to Christian Science and…,” The Christian Science Journal, December 1907, 559–560.
  3. “Arise and walk,” The Christian Science Journal, February 1945, 61–63.
  4. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, 116–118.
  5. “Being Made Over,” The Christian Science Journal, June 1917, 128–131.