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Fish Ladders and Spiritual Progress

IN the beautiful Columbia Gorge, in the northwestern United States, you can see salmon advancing through fish ladders at the Bonneville Dam. I watched these big fish resting in the ladders before swimming to the sides and back into the rushing water. Then they would rest again in the next ladder. This went on until they reached their freedom upriver.

I asked my husband why the salmon didn't just keep resting in the ladders-why did they return to swimming against the current? He replied that they are impelled to move forward; it is natural for them to do so.

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This taught me a spiritual lesson. The true nature of man, God's child, is to move forward in spiritual knowledge and living. Every time someone is loving, humble, willing to listen to God's direction and follow it, he or she is going forward.

Christian Science explains that God can be seen as divine Mind, the source of all intelligence. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote this about moving forward in the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ''The purpose and motive to live aright can be gained now. This point won, you have started as you should. You have begun at the numeration-table of Christian Science, and nothing but wrong intention can hinder your advancement. Working and praying with true motives, your Father will open the way'' (p. 326).

We can rest in the truth that God is directing us in each step of our lives. And with this knowledge we can move forward and solve life's problems, because we know we are safe in His care. No one is ever separated from divine Mind, not even for a moment.

As a mother of two college students, I was sad to see them leave home when they went to the university. I had to learn that as children embark on their own lives, which is progressive for them, their parents are not left behind! Opportunities for everyone to progress are part of our inheritance from God.

In the Bible, we read about a man named Joseph, who was wrongfully imprisoned. It was Joseph's innocence and his willingness to listen to God right there in prison that not only brought him to freedom but prompted the king to give Joseph control over his lands. At length, the Bible says, ''The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian'' (Genesis 39:2). We might ask ourselves how we can be like Joseph and move forward right where we are. I have trusted God to open the way for me to find constructive activity, and answers have come. My prayer and motive have been to serve God by using the talent that comes from my Father-Mother God. I was led to enroll in college, and took a writing class from a published author. And I've been continuing to take courses. My first newspaper article was published recently. This work has brought me immeasurable joy, and shows me that spiritual growth and progress are meant to continue for all of us. Jesus said in the book of Matthew, ''Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you'' (6:33).

God does indeed love every individual. He gives both the ability and the wisdom to express Him, in order for us to bless others. I celebrate each day, knowing it is filled with opportunity, not only for children but for adults as well. I love a spiritual explanation of the word day in Science and Health, which reads in part, ''The objects of time and sense disappear in the illumination of spiritual understanding, and Mind measures time according to the good that is unfolded'' (p. 584).

We can trust this to be true. As children leave home, parents can be glad for them. There is no room for sadness in a heart that is filled with gratitude.

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I press toward the mark

for the prize of the high calling

of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14

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