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ON the shorelines of the Great Lakes, atmospheric conditions can produce unexpected and heavy ``lake effect'' snows. Coming out of a lakeside appointment one day, I found myself in a swirling white wilderness. Even though the neighborhood was familiar and I knew the road just ahead would be clear, the experience was surprisingly disconcerting. Every single landmark had disappeared. When one of the major landmarks of human life disappears, the mental landscape can seem just as blank and featureless. The loss of a desirable job or a cherished marital role can be disorienting. Some feel their value plummets; some even feel life is no longer worth living. But this need not be the case. Through Christian prayer we can find a deepened recognition of our actual, spiritual identity, and experience healing. We may appear to be physical creatures who develop and decline through a series of events that imprint in us an image of ourselves. However, the Bible assures us that we are children of God. We're actually offspring of perfect divine Spirit. Our wholeness and value are therefore spiritual facts, apart from any office or position we may fill, as important as it may be. In the truest sense, then, the landmarks that maintain our bearings are spiritual. The Apostle Paul counsels, ``If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit,'' 1 and enumerates some of the qualities we might increasingly see as our lives bear witness to Spirit: love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness.2 Most of us are happy to see in such qualities admirable additions to customary living. But it is only when the usual structures of human life are disturbed that we become willing to find in them the genuinely meaningful landmarks of life--the spiritual values that forward true and lasting well-being. At that point we can discover, as others have, that our worth, anchored in these qualities, remains intact even if a familiar world dissolves around us. It is interesting to note that former prisoners in war camps sometimes tell of having anchored their self-worth in attributes such as those mentioned by Paul: in the humor they can find even in straitened circumstances, in the life and beauty they see reflected in nature, and in the kindnesses they can do for one another. Although the loss of a role with which we have closely identified may seem harrowing, such an experience can be viewed as something other than a disaster. Because man is in fact spiritual, nothing can really sever his unity with God. Through divine grace the patterns of ordinary thought are loosened, and we're able to discover something of the magnitude of our real, spiritual being. Gauging our progress and merit by spiritual landmarks--by the peace we can express or the love we give--we can find the blessings of a wilderness experience to be more lasting than its perils. Bible characters such as Abraham, Joseph, and the children of Israel, who left known for unknown territories, are remembered less for hardships experienced in unfamiliar lands than for the spiritual strength they developed there. After he was baptized and a voice from heaven was heard to proclaim him the beloved Son, Christ Jesus was faced with temptations to misuse his power. Although these doubts cost him a struggle, his loyalty to the one God ultimately rose supreme,3 and this loyalty characterized his healing ministry, which changed the world. Mary Baker Eddy4 writes, ``Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear,--this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony.'' 5 Following spiritual landmarks, we can find gladness even in adversity. And this prepares us to witness to our true spiritual nature in fresh ways, which increasingly bless us and the human family. 1 Galatians 5:25. 2 See Galatians 5:22. 3 See Matthew 4:1-11. 4 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 5 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 324.

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