Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
I won't be breaking any new-year resolutions in 1998 - simply because I didn't make any!
In previous years, probably like many other people, I have rarely managed to keep any resolutions I made much past March, or April at best. So, before the end of last year, I decided I should tackle self-improvement on a daily, rather than an annual, basis.
In the past, when I realized I'd broken one of my worthy resolutions, I tended to feel it wasn't worth starting again the next day or even coming up with a substitute resolution that might seem easier to keep. There seemed to be a sort of unfortunate irrevocability about failing despite my best efforts.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with wanting to do what you can to be better this year than last, better today than yesterday. By analogy, suppose you owned a house that had two broken windows - a large one facing the prevailing wind and weather, and a much smaller one at the sheltered side of the house. If you had only enough glass to mend the smaller window, it would certainly be illogical not to repair it, simply because you felt the larger window was far more important. Even so, a person may need to watch not to concentrate so hard on keeping some "important" resolution that he or she overlooks other areas of character in need of improvement.
Such dithering is like the children's verse by A. A. Milne (author of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories) about a sailor shipwrecked on an island. He started making a list of things to do for his comfort and safe return. But before he got around to any of them, he always thought of something else he felt he should do first. Eventually, he did nothing but lie on the beach until he was fortunate enough to be rescued.
This is certainly not the way that great spiritual leaders have suggested we should live our lives. Jesus Christ taught that if we recognize and strive daily to express our spiritual relation to God (who Christian Science shows to be perfect and everlasting Principle), we are made better. And we are able to overcome the annual need for new resolutions. Jesus said, "There must be no limit to your goodness, as your heavenly Father's goodness knows no bounds." And the time to experience and express this goodness is now. St. Paul later said, "This is the hour of favour, this is the day of deliverance." Both these verses are from The Revised English Bible (Matt. 5:48 and II Cor. 6:2).
I heard that Michelangelo was once asked how he achieved such perfection in his sculptures. He replied that to begin with, he saw in his mind's eye the beautiful end product. Then, all he had to do was to chip away the rock that concealed it.
If we feel that our standards may have fallen at any time, what we need to do is get back to seeing our perfection as children of God's creating. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered the Science of Christ in 1866, wrote: "If man was once perfect but has now lost his perfection, then mortals have never beheld in man the reflex image of God. The lost image is no image. The true likeness cannot be lost in divine reflection. Understanding this, Jesus said: 'Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect' " ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 259).
Our need for alertness is rather like living in a building with beautiful views to be seen through its crystal-clear windows. Then, almost imperceptibly, dust and rain combine to dirty the glass from the outside. If nothing is done about this, in due course we can lose sight of the beautiful views. Yet, so long as we maintain a regular cleaning routine, we'll continue to benefit from looking through the clear glass.
Christian Science shows that you and I are the image of God throughout eternity, and can find more of this spiritual perfection in our lives at any moment through prayer, communion with God. Along these lines, Mrs. Eddy also made this hopeful observation, found on Page 230 of "Miscellaneous Writings": "Success in life depends upon persistent effort, upon the improvement of moments more than upon any other one thing. A great amount of time is consumed in talking nothing, doing nothing, and indecision as to what one should do. If one would be successful in the future, let him make the most of the present."