ONE morning as I went to my desk, I was startled by an old song from my childhood singing itself in my mind. It was the one about the old gray mare who wasn't what she had been many long years ago. We children had sung it as a game. On the second chorus we gradually slowed the words until the music dragged to a total stop.
It had been great fun then, and we acted out what it would be like to grow gradually old and feeble. But on that morning, recalling the old song was anything but fun.
My feet were hurting, even in my loose-fitting old shoes. I was also worried that a writing project I'd worked on for months wouldn't be accepted. It was going very badly, and I'd recently read that publishers preferred younger writers who could be productive and profitable for a longer time in the future. My editors certainly knew from our long association I wasn't young in years anymore.
At first the memory of the song simply made me feel more dejected. But then I realized that I hadn't just remembered an old song; I'd also recalled a learning process. My classmates and I, by intentionally and gradually slowing the music, had been ``acting out'' what we'd been taught, that growing old and lame was inevitable. As time passed, the music of our lives was going to come to a full and final stop. And on this particular morning, I'd certainly been feeling slowed and stopped, physically as well as professionally, by the passing of years.
As a longtime student of Christian Science, that liberating religion discovered and founded by Mary Baker Eddy on the pure words and works of Christ Jesus, I'd been healed of many serious illnesses and had found solutions to countless personal problems.
Healing had always come when I'd prayed until I saw clearly that I am the man of God's creating--His spiritual image and likeness, His own child and heir--and could not be subject to sin, disease, inharmony, and death. God-created man is eternally pure and perfect.
I began to pray with all my longing heart. Almost instantly I recalled lines from a psalm attributed to David as his prayer after he had made a terrible and sinful mistake: ``Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit'' (Psalms 51:12).
I knew at once that I did certainly need the restoration of the joy I normally had in my work, in the unfolding and expressing of fresh ideas. I had allowed joy to be displaced by the all too common belief that younger is better, that as we grow older we inevitably deteriorate physically and mentally, and that we are somehow of less value to others once a certain number of years have passed.
``Aging'' certainly hadn't terrified Mrs. Eddy. One of her great achievements for mankind had been the founding of this paper at the age of eighty-seven! She observed in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Time-tables of birth and death are so many conspiracies against manhood and womanhood. Except for the error of measuring and limiting all that is good and beautiful, man would enjoy more than threescore years and ten and still maintain his vigor, freshness, and promise'' (p. 246.)
I'd somehow accepted the fear that my work might not be accepted because of my age. This was certainly one of those ``conspiracies'' against manhood and womanhood, just as that long-ago, sad-happy song about slowing physical freedom had been.
I went back to my desk determined to enjoy more fully the joy of working as a creation of God, expressing ideas that had their source in Mind, thinking out beyond the small space I inhabited. That was what I'd attempted to do when I was a ``younger'' writer. That hadn't changed, and wouldn't.
By the following morning, all trace of pain in my feet had vanished. The physical relief was sweet, but even sweeter was my understanding that the discomfort had been only the outward sign of crippling inner fears I'd needed to evict from my consciousness.
I did complete my project and submit it to a publisher. It was accepted. I also became more aware that writers of my own generation were still producing wonderful work and being published.
It isn't God, Spirit, who slows and stops the music of the eternal unfolding of His children. Most of us press the ``stop'' button ourselves when we allow our joy to be displaced with the fear of what we imagine our lot will be as we grow older. The truth, the shining truth, the radiant reality of being, is that what God creates is eternally changeless, the consistent expression of divine Principle. The more we understand this fact and accept it, the more our physical experience will demonstrate it, or show it forth.
I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. John 11:25,26