There is something deeply nourishing, calming, peaceful, and satisfying about beauty. This is because beauty is divine. Beauty is of God, and anything beautiful is beautiful because it reflects God, the very core and essence of life. The miracle of being, the activity and enthusiasm of a creative Mind.
The universe including us is radiant with Life's beauty, continuous vitality, energy, and growth. All beautiful like numbers and notes, an infinite design in endless variations. Divine Mind's ideas are shining "in glorious radiance", informs us the Psalmist, and Mind's ideas are elegant, refined, representing the faultless style of their Maker. A hymn by J. Palmer Snelling says: "Such tender beauty, Lord, from Thee is shed abroad o'er all the earth; in bird, in sunbeam, light and flower Thy grace and goodness may be seen." (#45). Perfection is spiritual, gorgeous to behold, pleasing to hear and enriching to feel. "Man is the reflection of Soul", writes Mary Baker Eddy (p. 249).
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder - the awakened consciousness that doesn't overlook one element of God's making. Material beauty does not exist, it is the spiritual consciousness that understands that, sometimes with the heart, most often with heart and mind and soul.
How can a reflection respond to the creator but by being like its beautiful source - the creator of it all? Anyone eye to eye with the sun, watching the sunrise, cannot help but shine and feel the light. A special form of little sunrise is also watching a baby in a crib or witnessing how someone saves another one from peril. One cannot help but respond with awe and wonder - to this beautiful activity of creation, of good in action. Beauty is alive.
There is a special beauty in individuals willing to sacrifice their human ego for infinite Soul, rejoicing every day as they explore more of this one consciousness of good blessing all. Nothing is more beautiful than the eyes of those seeking beauty in others, mentioned fellow Christian Science practitioner Kate Robertson, and this special beauty is captivating. We cannot imagine any spiritual thinker being other than beautiful, and faith itself is the very essence of delight and beauty - the instrument with which we gain full access to the balance and harmony of Spirit. Spiritual understanding is a home for the adoration of and respect for God, so infinite, grand, and glorious almost beyond human perception. Beauty is indeed the prerogative of good, and good is God. And because God, Truth, is always on our side, we feel its supremacy and authority when we encounter beauty. Because beauty is of God and responds to God.
So may all thoughts today be illumined as you keep your own mental atmosphere pure. Hold your gaze to the light and watch out with spiritual intuition for the fullness of light as you perceive your environment - reflecting the beautiful universe from a beautiful, beautiful Mind. Nothing small or limited enters this world of beauty, all is grand and honorable in God's world, the perfect realm and dimension of divine Love. It wouldn't be complete without you, without anyone your thoughts rest upon.
As you let these ideas expand, there is extra super inspiration from Mary Baker Eddy as set to music by Peter Link, sung by Julia Wade. Beautifully sung, with grace and humility. And listening to her, I understand new, as if for the first time, that beauty is so moving and touching, because it teaches us in the most tender way what humility is all about. Who we are in the grand scheme of things - because we get a glimpse of Life itself. Beautiful.
December is Advent time within any Christian faith community, in our family it means a spiritual adventure and a journey with the help of what we call "The Christian Science Advent Calendar" - the chapter "Recapitulation" in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Of course, the term is something our family made up. I call it quiet anticipation in 24 steps, and my niece Anna-Lena wrote beautifully about it in her guest blog post. In Science and Health, the 14th chapter "recapitulation" summarizes the metaphysics of Christian Science. It is open, it is free for everyone - no clergy is protecting this knowledge, no proficiency is required on the side of reader, although I find that a dictionary helps to deepen my understanding of it. Christian Science is so generous and open about its content and confident in its truthfulness that it invites anybody to test by his or her own experience what to make of it.
Today I ponder question #7, dealing with the real meaning of substance. As I reflect on this question, I pray about a deeper understanding of substance. And I see this question being linked in our time to the Christmas season in the Western world with its emphasis on buying instead of being. Christmas after all has the central meaning of the priority of spiritual substance over a material sense of worth and meaning.
So what to make of all the material stuff and how to discover true substance? I open the book Science and Health at the very beginning and I find a quote from Shakespeare: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Could this really be true? Is thinking all that matters? Even at Christmas prep time when there seems to be more material stuff around, more talk about "things"? Does everything really boil down to motives?
For me, the answer is “yes.” And that’s how I’ve come to understand my relationship with “material stuff”—whether it’s an object, or an activity where I choose to spend my time.
Lets take one example, like playing the piano. The thought behind this activity could be focused on diving deeper into the meaning of art and life itself. It could be viewed as an opportunity to increase concentration, to improve on individual talents, or to bless others with beauty. On the other hand, playing the piano could also be about impressing an audience, or about pursuing wealth, recognition, or fame.
Maybe this example seems silly, because it’s pretty obvious that only the right motive carries with it the perseverance to achieve true excellence - on the piano and in life. But it does point to the importance of the thought that guides our actions and decisions. Collecting songs, vinyls, or wristbands, following fashion trends, moving up levels in a computer game, learning to make the most delicious Christmas cookies ever —all these can be individual ways of expressing more of the Love that is Life, more of the supreme intelligence of divine Mind that is everywhere and all-in-all. Each endeavor calls on us to use our spiritual qualities, making it a training ground for spiritual progress. And if we answer this call, we find opportunities at each turn to express the infinite qualities of Love and Life in individual ways. The motive will propel us forward.
But, if we let our individuality become secondary to selfishness, or personal satisfaction, the same pursuits will take on a different hue. In the worst of cases, we end up in something that Mary Baker Eddy called “the ditch of nonsense.” (Miscellaneous Writings, 1883-1896, p. 230). Thankfully, she gave us a way out through this guideline: “Enjoying good things is not evil, but becoming slaves to pleasure is. That error is most forcible which is least distinct to conscience. Attempt nothing without God’s help.” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 197)
As I think about this passage, it helps me take the question of motives to a higher level. In fact, I think, the best measure of the worth and purity any pursuit is not just whether it is blessing others, but whether it is also helping us learn something more about Truth, God. Whether it is impelling us to bow in all humility before something so much bigger and wiser and so much more creative than we are. With God, divine Love, at the center of our lives, we are moving towards an upgrade in spirituality and a downsizing in material stuff. Simply because spirituality is so much more interesting, authentic and real. We are able to make good and wise and unselfish choices and see more clearly how everything can turn into something sparkling and meaningful—and even revelatory.
In her answer to the question "What is substance?" Mary Baker Eddy writes: "The spiritual universe, including individual man, is a compound idea, reflecting the divine substance of Spirit." (p. 468) Isn't it crystal clear from this answer, that any material thing or material stuff in and by itself can never be substance? But we are. Man is the most precious substance of all. We are the real worth, we are the stuff the universe is made of. All spiritual, all good. So much more than money can buy.
(This post is based on a text about "material stuff" - a continuing exploration of true worth and true meaning in life).
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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