DO passing years really regulate our existence? It would appear so, unless we begin to challenge that belief with spiritual facts. What spiritual facts? To begin with, the fact that God, not a material body, is man's true and ultimate Life. Speaking of God, the Bible says, ``He is thy life, and the length of thy days.'' 1 Another spiritual fact: God does not change. The Bible says, ``I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.'' 2 God is man's Life, and God does not change. Once when our young grandson learned of a birthday in the family he asked, ``Where are the presents?'' His grandfather quickly answered, `` `O gentle presence'!'' Christian Scientists will recognize my husband's reply as the opening words of a loved poem by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. It begins, ``O gentle presence, peace and joy and power; O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour.'' 3 The children all laughed at the pun.
I, too, enjoyed it, and I am continuing to appreciate it more and more. To me, the thought of God's gentle presence embodies a fresh, prayerful, Christian approach to the challenge of aging.
How do we feel this presence? By abiding in, and gratefully noting in ourselves, others, and our environment, those spiritual qualities that identify God's presence. When we see, for example, intelligence, joy, or loveliness expressed, we can gratefully think, ``That is a quality of God, and so God, Life, is right here, and this Life is my Life.'' The ``gentle presence''--``Life divine''--fills all space and owns each moment.
Yes, this is a very different concept from the traditional belief that God, a being far removed from us, is watching over us and taking care of our physical bodies year after year. However, it is a concept that Christian Scientists find both refreshing and practical.
Let's refute the belief that we are aging, pressured, problem-ridden mortals. To do so isn't to avoid reality but to face it--to acknowledge what God is and what His creation truly is. It may not always be easy to silence the clamoring thought of decline. Yet we can as we recognize in prayer that God, that dear gentle presence who is man's Life, is right at hand. I have found the following reasoning helpful: Every time I grasp a fresh, God-derived idea I reason that this is spiritual understanding; hence spiritual strength; hence ageless being. I am trying consciously and gratefully to identify these ideas whenever they come to thought. For example, I was walking through a parking lot and saw a camper with a bumper sticker, ``God is my copilot.'' Immediately I thought, ``No, that could be egotistical. Better yet, God is my pilot.'' As I drove home I reasoned, God is my Life, my Mind. I do not take glory or a distorted, false sense of responsibility unto myself. God is my pilot. Thank you, Father, for that fresh idea. It represents spiritual understanding, therefore spiritual strength, therefore ageless being, unfettered dominion.
Birthdays are a false commentary on God, who is man's Life. Mrs. Eddy puts it succinctly in the Christian Science textbook: ``Life and its faculties are not measured by calendars.'' 4 Through silent prayer, and through identifying God as man's Life in our daily activities, we'll see the spiritual fact more apparent in our experience; see it expressed in sharp judgment, undiminished vigor, and health. These are natural manifestations of man's undying, God-derived selfhood.
1 Deuteronomy 30:20. 2 Malachi 3:6. 3 Poems, p. 4. 4 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 246.