WHEN we get bogged down in regretting the past or dreading the future, we lose sight of the fact that we aren't helpless to act in the present moment. Paul brought home this point when he said in a letter to Christians in the town of Corinth, "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.'' An experience I had showed me that even a glimpse of what it means to live in God's now opens up surprising possibilities.
When I was a student, one of my teachers, a renowned painter, came in twice a week to go over our work and give demonstrations. He demanded that we be prepared, and he tolerated no laziness, apathy, or absenteeism. This kept us on our toes!
One week I'd had very little sleep because the students on the floor above my rooms had been very noisy. With other university classes to meet, I had skipped preparation for art class, and I was very worried. Nothing to show my teacher after three days? It was unthinkable.
Anxiously I climbed to the top- floor skylighted studio. I was late, so I had to set up my easel near the door. The teacher was due in a half-hour and would probably come to me first. I prayed, "God, You are the one creator. Your creation reflects Your inspiration and power to express beauty.'' As a student of Christian Science, I was familiar with a passage Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "God expresses in ma n the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis.'' And in another book, Unity of Good, she says of Christ Jesus, "Jesus required neither cycles of time nor thought in order to mature fitness for perfection and its possibilities.'' To quiet my fears further, I reminded myself that I reflected the creativity of the one divine Mind. I brushed on color fast, to get something to take shape and cover that canvas.
Our teacher came bounding in, his voice booming forth, "Now students, let's begin over here today,'' and breezed past me to the far side of the studio. I had a reprieve!
I worked as fast as I could, abandoning my usual plodding and overmeticulous style. Nothing mattered except to break free from thoughts of myself as a limited mortal trying to prove something about art, and to strive for the freedom and joy that truly reflect unlimited, infinite Mind, Soul, the source of all creativity. I continued praying as I painted.
Almost at the period's end, the teacher came up and stood quietly looking at my work. Finally he said, "Now, put this one aside, just as it is. And when you need encouragement, take it out and look at it. And say to yourself, I did it then, I can do it now.''
I know I must have looked amazed. "You--like it?''
He said, "It's fresh, it's unlabored--I like it very much. This is a new approach for you, and I applaud you for it.'' As he turned to go, he said, "Students, I'm delighted with the spontaneity the class is expressing!'' and went quickly downstairs, leaving a happy group. I stared at my canvas, striving to see fully what he'd seen there. I said silently, "Thank you, God, for being the loving cause and creator of all that is. Thank you for revealing to me something of what it means to be a part of t he infinite now!''
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