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Sand Castle Lesson

WE'D been looking after three boys, and to give my wife a break one day, I took them to the beach. ``Let's make a sand castle, I suggested. They loudly approved as I drew a circle in the sand a few feet above the waterline. I started digging the moat, putting the sand in the middle to create the castle. The boys enthusiastically did the same. The castle quickly took form, and we put our first tower in one corner. Then Scotty stepped in the moat and part of the walls and castle fell in.

Nothing was said as he and his brothers repaired the damage. But I quietly mused on a scene twenty years earlier when I had been building a castle on a similar beach with my own children. On that occasion I carefully supervised and directed the operation to be sure that we would end up with a good-looking castle.

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This time I had not the slightest desire to be in charge in any way. I could see that it was an activity for the boys, and it didn't matter one iota what form the castle took or how it looked in the end. Their imagination, ingenuity, laughter, and joy were the objectives--not a polished project. Well, the four of us did produce quite a fancy castle. In this atmosphere free of judgment or restriction, they decorated the construction with sticks and shells in a way I would never have thought of. And I lear ned a lesson. It's thoughts, not things, we need and want!

I've always known that the ultimate goals were thoughts, but for a long time I believed that things were necessary to attain the desired mental atmosphere. For example, I'd concluded that a nice home is necessary to feel secure, safe, settled, or that an attractive body is necessary to be happy and useful. But I see now, and what's even better I've proved it somewhat, that it's really the other way around. When my mental outlook is settled, happy, and so forth, the necessary things come into place. Isn't

that a basic teaching of Christianity? Christ Jesus said, we read in Matthew's Gospel, ``Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Sometimes I talk to myself along these lines: Hey, my friend, don't be anxious about material things or tasks. The one universal Father-Mother God is continuously supplying a wonderful abundance of spiritual good to His creation. Discover the spiritual strength, joy, and beauty that are already yours as a child of this infinite divine Principle that is governing all. Seek spiritual qualities first and you'll have everything you need.

To bring our thoughts and desires into conformity with spiritual law does take effort and even sacrifice. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes of God, divine Mind, in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Divine Mind rightly demands man's entire obedience, affection, and strength. No reservation is made for any lesser loyalty. Obedience to Truth gives man power and strength.

Does this imply that we should have less diligence or responsibility in fulfilling our daily duties? No--perhaps the very opposite. But it does mean we set better priorities for ourselves. The goal is the expression of right qualities in every aspect of our work. As Paul said to the Philippians: ``Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

So what is the lesson of the sand castle? The real goal is not the castle. It's the expressing and living of wonderful, joyous, loving qualities as we build it. And these qualities are already within you and in everyone, to be found and lived. It's not the things. It's the thoughts that are most real.

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