HAVE you ever driven by a field while hay was being made? Or smelled evergreen boughs right after they were cut? There's an aroma of sweetness and life and vigor that's hard to resist. It refreshes and makes you feel at home, both at the same time. Perhaps it's these qualities that make new things so appealing. Maybe they also help explain the eagerness with which we greet a new year. There's hope of a fresh start then. We allow ourselves to dream of possibilities in ways we may not at other times. And yet often by February -- sometimes even mid-January -- much of the resolve to follow through on our aspirations has somehow evaporated, and we are trudging about our days much as we were when the previous year began feeling ``old.'' The bright start seems inexorably to be followed by a slow slide into staleness. We often accept the grayness and stagnation as inevitable, even as we attempt to recapture those alive feelings by bringing in the ``new'' from outside ourselves -- through entertainment, travel, meeting people, buying things.
No one who is willing to think differently about life has to live out that scenario again. Three years in one man's life proved it possible for all of us to live creative, productive, and healthy lives. The man, Christ Jesus, said it in these words: ``I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.'' His recipe for abundant living worked from the inside out, however, from thought to experience, refreshing and renewing hearts and minds (not rearranging or replacing externals) through understanding God -- the creative, divine Principle of the universe and man.
Life, to Jesus, wasn't just a gift from God. It was God Himself, who is infinite and good. God was and is the Life of man -- the Life of each of us by reflection. This understanding is why Jesus refused to become caught up in time-bound, earthbound, flesh-bound, hidebound views of existence. And it is the grand basis on which his healings of disease and sin in others came about. Infinite Life, Soul, couldn't result in anything other than a beginningless and endless spiritual creation. God's likeness, man, could do nothing less than perpetually bloom, be nothing less than the flawless, spiritual image of his Maker.
The view that men and women are little more than fragments of energy trapped in material routines is a necessarily limited, disheartening perspective. It measures life as only so many hours or days, squeezed into a box called time with death waiting at the end. Feel, by contrast, the liberating hope of these statements from the description of year in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy: ``One moment of divine consciousness, or the spiritual understanding of Life and Love, is a foretaste of eternity.... Eternity is God's measurement of Soul-filled years.''
To become better acquainted with Life as God is to find the patterns of decline and spiritless living losing some of their appearance of inevitability to us. We start to feel more of the real and natural power that is ever-colorful Life. And inspiration, renewal, variety, spontaneity, begin to be regular companions rather than once-a-year visitors. When these things happen, we can look forward to moments of divine consciousness becoming the foundation for our New Year's celebrations -- and to watching as those moments reshape our lives throughout the year.
The Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine, contains more articles about God's power to heal.