I WAS doing a crossword puzzle. The clue was ``unending time.''
The answer had eight letters, and the last letter was a ``y.'' I filled in the word ``eternity.''
But I had to smile to myself as I did so. From my first introduction to the spiritual meaning of the Bible, through the teachings of Christian Science, I had been learning something radically different from this material view of eternity. Eternity is not unending time; it is the spiritual truth of timeless being.
This is something wonderful to know. It liberates us from time restraints as well as from feeling we have too much time on our hands. Time is not, ultimately, a real factor in our lives. God, Spirit, is the only true factor determining our experiences. And since God Himself is eternal, His image and likeness--which the Bible declares spiritual man to be--must be as eternal as He is. To the degree that we comprehend that we are each, in reality, this eternal, spiritual man of God's creating, we disentangl e ourselves from the domination of time.
In the Bible, John's Gospel states, ``This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.'' As we yield to the spiritual ideas that appear to our thought, we experience such ``knowing'' of what God really is. Then we realize more and more how divine Life's, God's, eternality alone determines man's ability to act.
Understanding this makes a practical difference. One time I left my house late for an appointment and spotted an acquaint-ance. It occurred to me that it would be loving to stop and talk to this individual and to nurture the fledgling interest she had shown in understanding more of her relationship with God. At the same time I thought that I couldn't possibly stop because I was late already! But there was another way of thinking about the question of what to do. I glimpsed the spiritual idea that there i s always the freedom to do what it is right to do. So I stopped to talk to my friend and we had a lively conversation. Much to my surprise, everything else went so smoothly that I arrived at my appointment a few minutes early!
What had happened? When I obeyed the thought that came to me of man's freedom to do whatever it is right to do, I was submitting to divine Spirit's view of my situation. I was knowing God and His Christ instead of accepting notions of material limi-tation. And the operation of the law of ``life eternal overruled the limitations imposed by believing in time's supposed rule over us.
This small experience impressed on me the accuracy of a statement made by Mary Baker Eddy, the author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In this book she writes: ``Life is eternal. We should find this out, and begin the demonstration thereof.''
The view that life will be eternal sometime in the future, after having let time run its course, is a little like expecting to get up to the summit of a mountain by walking along a road that goes round and round its base. Just as we'd have to leave the road in order to start climbing the mountain, we've got to leave behind our meek submission to the limitations of time in order to start gaining the understanding and demonstration of eternity. Now is the time to challenge the pervasive concept of time pra yerfully. Let's not look to the future for a promise of unending time. Let's cherish instead the ever-present spiritual truth that time has no genuine beginning, no actual reality, in the eternal allness of God. Being is timeless.