Neither here nor there
WHEN our children were small we always looked forward to spending our vacation time camping in the mountains. When we returned to the city, however, the houses seemed more crowded together than when we had left, the noises more abrasive, the view more cramped. I would spend days feeling depressed and longing for the peace and beauty of the mountains. I truly felt that to find peace I could look only ``unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.''1 Then one time a wonderful thing happened. As we returned to the city and drove along the familiar streets, I braced myself for the usual onset of depression. But it never came! The houses were indeed close together, the bustle of traffic, road equipment, and playing children as noisy as ever. But I could sense an atmosphere of love and peace surrounding each house, each street, each child. Nothing broke the harmony we had experienced ``there'' with the intrusion of a ``here'' that was somehow less peaceful. The same peace and beauty that pervaded the mountains were present in the city, because I had learned something of the spiritual source of those qualities.
Certainly the houses hadn't been renovated or painted, or the cars equipped with new mufflers. In fact, nothing had changed out there. But a great deal had changed in my thinking. I had become a student of Christian Science.
That didn't mean I was going around painting a rosy glow on things, that I was being a Pollyanna. Indeed not. It meant that I was beginning to see my surroundings in a more spiritual light and to recognize that my peace did not have its source in places or people. Peace comes from God and can't ever be disturbed or taken away. God does not divide His creation into good and bad, peaceful and disturbed, beautiful and ugly, but is the author only of ``the enduring, the good, and the true.'' A dawning realization of God's total goodness and the goodness of His spiritual creation was making this goodness more apparent to me everywhere.
The words quoted above are from the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.2 The complete sentence reads: ``Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.''3
The understanding that God is present everywhere and that His creation reflects Him was gradually dispelling the illusion of a happy and peaceful ``there'' and a dismal and disappointing ``here.'' I was learning to feel the same love and beauty, though variously expressed, wherever I happened to be. I began to see a beauty in the prairie and deserts that I hadn't appreciated before--their spectacular sunsets, for instance. And even the longing to live in the country on a farm, as I had done from childhood, began to fade. I was content to be wherever God placed me.
Interestingly, later we moved to a location that made it possible to enjoy not only the mountains but the ocean. When we were looking for a permanent place to buy, I prayed daily, realizing that each one's niche is already and eternally established by divine Love, God; that it is a complete idea in the one divine Mind. We looked at numerous houses, but one day my husband came home and told us of a house he had seen advertised and stopped to see. I knew instantly this was the house provided for us, even though it would be several days before I, or the rest of the family, would have an opportunity to see it.
The next morning I began to scan the real estate section in the newspaper as usual. As clearly as though it were a voice the thought came: ``Why are you looking at ads for houses? Your house is already provided for you.'' Obediently, I put the paper down and willingly trusted God's direction.
We bought the house my husband had seen, and it amply met our needs. In addition, it was located in the country overlooking several beautiful fields and an orchard, with mountains in the distance. Since the previous owner wanted to keep the fields and sell only the house and its large lot, the property was at a price we could afford. The home is a daily reminder to me that God's goodness is neither just here, nor just there, but that it is present everywhere.
1Psalms 121:1. 2Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3Science and Health, p. 261. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. Luke 17:20, 21