The beauty of life

Beauty is a thing of life, which dwells forever in the eternal Mind and reflects the charms of His goodness in expression, form, outline, and color.1

Beauty is a thing of life….wow….isn’t that the truth. When I was a photographer, my job was to look through this lens of life to see beauty in the details. I did a photo series on shadows that were cast by light shining through blown glass. The reflections looked like abstract images of water. You could almost see faces, boats and other shapes in the series. Beauty is everywhere; all around us. Have you ever seen someone in whom light and joy radiated through their eyes? I have. This has since taught me that beauty is, indeed, a thing of life. Because it dwells in God, divine Mind, we can see it all around us.

For in Him we live and move and have our being.2

Being in awe of beauty is a therapeutic action (the Greek word therapeo means in English “to heal”3). Looking at the stars and moon, looking at the smile on a friends face, the sweet voice of a child, all remind me of God and God’s goodness. It is as if these are God’s faces, God’s smiles, and God’s laughter and voice. Perceiving beauty has therapeutic effects.

When I was in high school and college, I thought beauty was something I did — a way I acted or a way I dressed. I have since learned the beauty is not something we do; it is something we are. We shine because God is light. We reflect beauty because God is beautiful. We laugh because God expresses Her joy. We are like rays flowing out from the central sun, who is God. We are never disconnected from our Source, which is why we have the right to express all the beauty, poise, grace, love, energy that God has for us today. Nothing can stop it because nothing — no circumstance, physical ability, lack or limitation — can ever separate you from God, divine Love (even if you seem to be separated) for an instant.

Just like nothing separated me from God through past mistakes and lessons learned. We are one with the light of God, with the light and activity of Christ. We always have been and always will be. Seeing beauty around us is one way we can perceive the spiritual reality, God’s presence, all around us.

let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.4

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1 Mary Baker Eddy, Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 247
2 Acts 17:28 NRSV
3 Emmanuel Y. Lartey, In Living Color: A Intercultural Approach to Pastoral Care and Counseling Second Edition, p. 55
4 Matthew 5:16 NRSV

The love of trees

There is something so wonderful about being in nature. Perhaps because it is a time when I delight in beauty.

20171023_16210234076464.jpgI love getting to spend time each day in nature. For me, this means simply taking my dog and son to the park each afternoon as a family. We are fortunate enough to live near a park with beautiful trees and lovely wooded trails.

This “outside time”, as we call it, feeds our souls. The trees in this park are beautiful sugar maple and black walnut trees, surrounded by wooded hills, caves, mountain biking and hiking trails. It makes me want to go and plant more trees for our children’s children to enjoy for decades to come.

Trees are like quiet, uncomplaining sentinels, giving of their energy. They are familiar old friends. I am in awe and gratitude for trees. They are a spiritual symbol of home to me.

20171023_161808718632813.jpgStudies show that average Americans spend 90% of their days indoors. This tells me that specific effort is needed to carve out time to spend in nature, to enjoy the stillness around us, to take deep breaths and slow walks, and to give space to notice the little wonders around us.

Nature is where I feel God’s presence. It is so beautiful and wonderful that it reminds me of how much She loves us. I believe divine Love is the creator of the universe, and I am in awe of Her majesty all around us. It is as though She is showing off Her beauty, grandeur, order, stillness, and harmony, whispering “I love you” in Her still, gentle ways.

What is controlling our thinking?

bieszczady-1001894__180One night, while laying in bed trying to go to sleep, I found myself ruminating about an upcoming project that didn’t require me to be organizing every detail that moment. What I did need was a feeling of peace, rest and trust in God’s all-power.

What do we do when we feel like our thinking is being hijacked from our naturally happy, healthy, restful selves?

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.1

the-stones-263661__180Mary Baker Eddy, a spiritual teacher and healer, called this influence “error” — it is simply an error to believe that God is not in control; it is simply an error to believe that God’s reality is not harmonious, perfect and that you are not included in it right now.

You are valuable! You are special!

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid2;

To be at one with divine consciousness is to know that God is controlling and working out every detail of your experience.

You are an active component of one “stupendous whole”.

As an active portion of one stupendous whole, goodness identifies man with universal good.3

love-1120294__180Sometimes I wonder: “Really, me? My tiny, insignificant problem in the grand scheme of things? Is God really working that out?” Well the answer that comes is YES —not because my problem is of huge significance but because my being is at one with the whole being— the whole of creation, God’s perfect universe. If I claim and accept that he isn’t governing me than I am claiming and accepting that I am separate from God and the rest of His creation. Impossible!

sea-989677__180As I lay in bed that night, I saw clear that it was error (subtly or aggressively) influencing me to over-analyze without relying on God, good, to guide each step of the way through divine inspiration. The moment I realized the error that was influencing my consciousness, I turned my thought to Christ; I thought about the Bible story of Christ Jesus walking over the waves to his disciples who were in the boat.

Jesus taught us to walk over, not into or with, the currents of matter, or mortal mind.4
It was clear to me that I had a choice to make: I could believe that God is all and is the only true law caring for every want and detail I could possibly imagine or I could stay in the boat of believing that there is lack, limitation, rush, stress, and fear that God has no ability to reject.

 

Thinking about the Master’s nonjudgmental compassion for Peter in reaching out his hand to help Peter when he started to sink helped me see the divine Love that I really wanted to take a stand for. I could see that I was being urged to “walk over the waves” – the downward pull of material thinking — to trust in God’s love.

The unnecessary ruminating stopped in those moments. I slept peacefully and awoke feeling a greater sense of freedom and refreshment. (In the following weeks, the project even evolved in such a way that the details I would have planned that evening would been obsolete, so I was saved from wasted time.) Divine inspiration, trust, and not human will, was needed to take the lead.

. . . let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.5

So, if you find yourself fretting about something, know that Christ is present to help you break the cycles of negative/limited thinking; Christ enables you to see who you really are, your perfect relationship with God who is unfolding every perfect detail to bless everyone.

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1 Romans 8:6 NIV
2 Luke 12:7 NIV
3 Mary Baker Eddy, The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, p. 165:16-18
4 Mary Baker Eddy, Unity of Good, p. 11:3-4
5 James 1:4 NKJV