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Pushing back the limits

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

My kids don't realize it yet. But I do. They now ski better than me. They've pushed back the limits. And they've done it with fewer opportunities, and less time on the slopes, than I had.

Don't get me wrong. I have plenty of fun. But back when I was first learning, bystanders perhaps heard me muttering hopefully the Psalmist's line "When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up" (Ps. 94:18). Now I'm likely to ski with more abandon and less muttering. The psalms still are welcome friends on the slopes, but I press them into service more for celebration than from desperation.

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Despite my progress over the years, how I ski is bettered by how my kids ski. This winter I watched my 11-year-old careening through turns on his snowboard, leaning so steeply his body paralleled the ground. In the next moment he was upright. Then airborne. Then slamming back to earth, and in a flash carving a turn through the snow in a new direction. I have no desire to ski like that. But I admire the freedom, the absence of fear, the lack of limits. And as I watch my kids, that mental freedom - more than the physical prowess - is what I yearn to emulate, to embody.

I know some limits are imposed by society or by circumstances. But most are self-imposed. For example, hopes that are lost in life not because they are snatched from us but because we give up on them. Defeats we resign ourselves to (perhaps only half-consciously) because we believe passing years have drained us of the ability or the opportunities.

What to do? Expanding your capacities really springs from genuine spiritual understanding rather than from trying to fake the confidence of youth.

In this, the Bible is illuminating to me. From the first book on, a spiritual portrait of who I am emerges. I am the likeness of God, the expression of unlimited divine Life. In countless ways, the Bible leads me away from a limited, or mortal, view of identity. It unveils my true identity as the unbounded expression of God. The unhindered and unfading reflection of Life itself. Spiritual understanding shows me that we each exist at the standpoint of having capacity. And this capacity is God-given, not humanly contrived.

As we glimpse the true nature of Life divine - and of ourselves as the expression of that Life - we begin to push back the barriers in daily living.

Think of Moses. His story is a long sequence of limits pushed off, of possibilities put on. On the surface, his early life in the royal palace seems one of endless privilege and possibilities. Yet he has to leave it all behind. He runs for his life to the desert, abandoning entitlement and social status. Plunges himself into a life with few prospects.

Or, so it must've seemed. In retrospect, it appears the reverse: that Moses' life as Pharaoh's son meant enslavement. That his departure from his palace life was freeing. Moses headed toward the burning bush, where he encountered Jehovah, the one I AM, the one limitless Life divine, the one God. Limits he confronted fell - and continued falling.

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For instance, the Red Sea itself was an impossible limit. So the sea had to part. Aging, too, proved a nonlimit; at 120, Moses' sight was clear and his vigor at full strength. Do these victories hint at the present-day possibilities for you and me, when we see and celebrate our nature as the likeness of unlimited Life?

It was 133 years ago that Mary Baker Eddy discovered a Science of unlimited being - the Science of Christ. When she was along in years, she wrote a letter declining an invitation to a ceremony in Chicago. But she made it clear that she was perfectly capable of making the journey. The letter included this comment: "... the true knowledge and proof of [human] life is in putting off the limitations and putting on the possibilities and permanence of [divine] Life" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 177).

Whether our forum for putting off limits is in conquering a steep ski slope or reclaiming a lost hope, it's this "knowledge and proof" that you, too, can engage in. Neither social status, physical prowess, youth, nor maturity is key to your spiritual freedom. What is? Realizing more of your identity as spiritual, without limits, always in the likeness of God - the one eternal Life divine.

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