A Christian Science perspective.
As I write this, summer has turned to autumn here in Maine. The tinge of yellow aspen and red maple leaves are reflecting in the lake by my home.
I love the changing of seasons for their beauty, but they also remind me of a negative tendency for human existence to derive meaning from the passage of time – from moving us along the conveyor belt of events that occur related to time, and the accomplishments that the passage of time seems to bring. Birth, growth, maturity, harvest. Sounds purposeful and prosperous, right? Well, the downside of this timeline is not progressive – it mandates decay and death. Biology interprets this as part of the life cycle. But throughout human history, people have caught glimpses of another view of life that has set aside the timeline of a mortal sense of existence and revealed Life as God, as timeless, self-existent Mind.
For instance, Moses, when he was herding sheep in the desert one day, came upon a bush that was burning but was not being consumed. He must have recognized this as very unusual, especially when he heard God’s voice from the bush, directing him to take off his shoes, telling him that he was standing on holy ground (see Ex. 3:1-5).
The same chapter later records a conversation that Moses had with God. Moses argued for his fears and limitation, based on his human history, present circumstances, and future prospects. But God’s self-declaration of “I AM THAT I AM” overturned these limited thoughts about identity and life purpose, and, to me, instead declared life to be God and God’s infinite self-completeness. Moses’ story became less about moving along a linear timeline of building up wealth, establishing a family, and making a name for himself. His service to God and his fellow Israelites indicated that he must have accepted an expanded concept of existence that included the infinite wholeness of good, which in turn took care of supplying manna and water in the wilderness, parting the Red Sea, and finding greater freedom from the bondage to the mortal story of birth, growth, maturity, decay, and death.
This indicates to me that Moses, at least to some degree, got off the conveyor belt of time and began practicing timeless being in God – life as described by the Apostle Paul as recorded in the book of Acts: “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (17:28).
I think we all, like Moses, find ourselves in the wilderness at times. We may feel puzzled by why our human story has not turned out as we’d hoped it would, or that our possibilities for progress are limited by circumstances beyond our control. Perhaps we feel that life is marching along without us, or that we pray to get through one challenge only to find another one coming down the pipe. I certainly have felt that way at times.
But I’m learning through my study of Christian Science that there is a blessing in the adversity if it pushes me out of my story of life in matter to accept more of God’s allness as my context. Mary Baker Eddy described wilderness, in part, as “the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 597). So even the most difficult of challenges in the human story can be a blessing if they push us to leave the linear, limited view of existence for a greater sense of Life in God and as God.
For instance, some years ago my husband passed on suddenly. I was left with two small children to raise and had no job. While this was all really hard, it was also an amazing wake-up call. I was no longer so enamored with getting my human story to come out right – college, marriage, children, happy home, successful career, and finally a well-deserved retirement. No, my story was suddenly way off track. So instead of trying to get it back on track, I found myself searching for new definitions of Life as God. I began looking outward to a frontier of expanding awareness of Life as infinite Mind and practicing this as conscious communion with Mind, or divine Love.
My goals and measurements of progress became more about daily fresh inspirations and new views of God’s allness, and less about getting ahead. This new approach, step by step, brought greater peace, creative ideas for how to be a stay-at-home mom and still earn a living, and a purposeful desire for spiritual service to humanity.
Now, this isn’t to say that I’ve never again felt the pull of the conveyor belt of time – I have. But it was, without a doubt, the life-changing beginning of rejecting a linear mortal existence and practicing a pattern of expanding consciousness as Life. I’m still at it, and more than ever it is filling my heart with satisfaction, productivity, and peace. We are in the infinite right now – why not begin to feel its limitless glory?
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