AS some friends and I hiked up a mountain trail one afternoon, each of us described the most beautiful thing we had seen in the last year. We all spend a great deal of time outdoors, so I would have expected descriptions of magnificent peaks, lakes, or sunsets. Instead, we all shared scenes involving people.
I told of last spring, when my crab apple tree had blossomed into a pink cloud and thickly carpeted the ground with petals. Blossoms rained down on the heads of a group of high-school students walking home from school. They started scooping up petals and pouring them over each other, laughing with an innocent joy too seldom associated with teenagers by society.
One friend described seeing little children sitting in a circle on their school lawn billowing a parachute up and down, exclaiming with delight and awe whenever it came down and engulfed them.
Another described witnessing the reunion of a mother and her young son with a daughter she had given up for adoption at birth. The daughter was there with her husband and children, and three generations met with warmth, love, and heartfelt joy.
Each scene had a conventional beauty to it--pink petals, snowy parachute contrasting with emerald grass, shining faces. But when I thought about what made these episodes so memorable and special, I realized it was that they brought to mind the beauty of holiness.
At this point you may be thinking, ``Whoa! Wait a minute! What's holy about everyday happy scenes? Doesn't holiness have something to do with religion?'' Yes, that's certainly part of it, but really anything derived from divine power is holy.
God is the universal and only creator, the source of all that is good and real. Reasoning from this standpoint, we have to conclude that everything real must have God, good, as its source. The Bible describes God as Spirit, and it follows that what Spirit creates must be spiritual. When we look around, evidence that the universe is material may seem quite compelling. If we take the Bible as our guide to reality, however, we have the incentive to look deeper to discern the spiritual reality it describes.
Because I like to think of holiness as glimpses of the spiritual shining through even everyday things, those characteristics, qualities, or actions that hint at creation's spiritual source would be considered holy.
The beauty of holiness is a lovely concept used several times in the Old Testament and later referred to in the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science. Psalm 29, for example, uses the phrase while urging people to rejoice in God's strength and power, visible throughout creation. ``Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.''
What is this special beauty? It is the spiritual qualities we express, such as the joy, purity, innocence, forgiveness, and tenderness my friends and I had witnessed. Nothing is more beautiful than spiritual qualities shining forth from God's children. Even the ordinary activities and tasks of daily living provide constant opportunities to express such qualities as patience, order, inspiration, and kindness. When spiritual qualities become fundamental to our thinking and actions, we are giving God ``the glory due,'' as the Psalmist urged, with our lives.
True worship goes far beyond just words or certain religious celebrations to a pattern of holy living that involves constant reliance on God. Such lives, which bear witness to the inseparable relationship we all have to God, are radiant with humility, love, and unselfish purpose. They are psalms of praise in action, manifesting the beauty of holiness in a way that touches and blesses others.
The Bible abounds with examples of men and women who lived in this way--Elijah, Joseph, Ruth, Dorcas, Lydia, Philip, and Paul, to name just a few. Through their reliance on God, they were able to bring comfort, happiness, spiritual direction, nourishment, and healing into others' lives. The best model of all for holy living is, of course, Christ Jesus. His example and teachings help people as effectively today as when he walked the dusty roads of Galilee and Judea, healing multitudes.
Mrs. Eddy thoroughly understood the connection between beautifully holy living and healing results. In a section called ``Bible Lessons'' in her Miscellaneous Writings, Mrs. Eddy explores the Biblical concept of salvation through belief in Christ Jesus. She points out that belief in this context means far more than simply an opinion that Jesus is the Son of God. ``But it does mean so to understand the beauty of holiness, the character and divinity which Jesus presented in his power to heal and to save, t hat it will compel us to pattern after both; in other words, to `let this Mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.' ''
As we do our best to pattern our thoughts and actions according to the example Jesus set-- listening to God, divine Mind, every step of our way--our lives will be radiant with the beauty of holiness. Even the smallest tasks will offer opportunities to glorify God through expressing spir-itual qualities. BIBLE VERSE
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet
of him that bringeth good tidings,
that publisheth peace;
that bringeth good tidings of good,
that publisheth salvation;
that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!