RECENTLY I was reading a book dedicated to retired people. It had a little ditty about the losses that come with age. In it, the writer affirmed that he had become used to all the limitations he was experiencing but one. The last line was ``But, oh, how I miss my mind'' (dedication to James A. Lane, A Birder's Guide to Florida, rev. 1989 by Harold R. Holt).
The belief that intelligence can somehow decline or be lost has been around a long time, but that doesn't mean that we need to accept it as an inevitable part of life. The Bible provides substantial evidence of people who were well beyond their eighties who led active lives, ones that demanded intelligence and stamina. Their secret: dependence on God, divine Mind, for direction and wisdom.
The example I find most encouraging is that of Moses. At the end of the book of Deuteronomy, the Bible says, ``Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated'' (34:7). Nor was Moses' life a sheltered one. He had spent forty years leading the children of Israel through the great desert wilderness as they were learning what it means to be the people of God. These were hard years, ones of doubt, frustration, and even rejection. To fulfill his task successfully, Moses needed to see beyond the limitations of human intelligence to the presence of divine Mind and to perceive its guidance. His faithfulness to Mind's direction enabled him to bring his people to the border of the Promised Land.
Yet he wasn't the only one being cared for during those forty years. We read in Deuteronomy that, speaking to the children of Israel before his death, Moses said, ``I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot'' (29:5). Even though these were outward things, the fact that they were preserved during the Israelites' long journey shows the power of God to help those who turn to Him.
The basis for preserving our intelligence--and increasing it--is the recognition that we don't have little separate, finite minds of our own. Nor is our intelligence the product of ``gray cells'' or a material brain. As the sons and daughters of God, we are totally spiritual and literally reflect the one Mind. What this means is that our intelligence--and all the capacities it includes--aren't locked into matter, which can be subject to disease or decay. It is the expression of the one divine Mind, God, which is infinite. Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, explains in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Mind never enters the finite. Intelligence never passes into non-intelligence, or matter'' (p. 336). It follows, then, that if Mind never enters the finite--the only place where decay and decline could occur--Mind, or intelligence, can never be lost.
Daily recognition of this fact--and the affirmation of our spiritual nature--can do much to reverse any suggestion that we are losing our memory, mind, or intelligence, whether as a result of age or for some other reason. We can trust God's power to heal, just as Christ Jesus did. The Master asserted with great certainty that God does answer our prayers. Matthew's Gospel shares this Christly promise: ``Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened'' (7:7, 8).
If our memory seems to be fading, we can seek to understand more of our true, spiritual nature as an idea in Mind--for whom nothing is lost. If our intelligence seems to be hitting a wall of limi-tation, we can recognize the infinite fountain of Mind as our source and find the way opening up for us. Since our intelligence isn't personal and limited, but rests solely in God, good, we need only ask to express more of His infinite wisdom. Even if the progress comes slowly or only by degrees, we can rejoice and give thanks for the light we have received.
Sometimes such prayer will bring to light limi-tations that others predicted about us a long time ago and that we had forgotten. Or a belief in heredity's power to limit us may surface. Other times, we may find that we had pushed aside memories that we found too painful to recall.
But whatever the causes seem to be, they have no final power in our lives. And as we let divine intelligence guide us, actually work in our lives, we will find ourselves identifying more and more with the one Mind in all its goodness. Then memories will be leavened by love, and limitations will be overcome through the truth that man is, and always has been, inseparable from the one Mind.
Be not conformed to this world:
but be ye transformed
by the renewing of your mind,
that ye may prove what is
that good, and acceptable,
and perfect, will of God. . . .
Be kindly affectioned
one to another with brotherly love;
. . . rejoicing in hope;
patient in tribulation;
continuing instant in prayer . . . .
Be of the same mind
one toward another.
Romans 12:2, 10, 12, 16