DO you long for more beauty in your surroundings? For a long time I did. My family and I were living in a plain, cramped apartment overlooking a large parking lot. But as I took my longing to God in prayer, I began to realize that what I needed was a deeper, more spiritual sense of what my surroundings really were. The Bible says of God in the book of Acts, ''For in him we live, and move, and have our being'' (17:28). We actually dwell in God, Spirit, who is infinite, All. In the deepest sense, then, our home must be heaven.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the Founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, Mary Baker Eddy, lists spiritual qualities inherent in this kingdom. She writes, ''Let unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love-the kingdom of heaven-reign within us, and sin, disease, and death will diminish until they finally disappear'' (p. 248).
I began to see that in proportion as we let these qualities rule within us, we feel the presence of God, divine Love, with us, and experience the peace and loveliness of heaven. In the Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew's Gospel, we find that Christ Jesus instructs us to live in just this way. This is natural to man, because he is really God's child, inseparable from Him, expressing all that his Father, divine Love, has and does. Jesus' life illustrated this inseparable relationship so well that he was called Christ-the anointed.
As I lived in accord with those heavenly qualities, more of the Christ shone through in my life, and I became more aware of Love's constant presence. Gradually I began to perceive what one line of a hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal says: ''The loveliness of Love is all around'' (No. 64). Then one winter night I saw this truth more completely.
We were driving home from a visit with friends who had a big, lovely home, and I fell into wishing I could have such beauty. There had been an ice storm that day, and everything was coated with ice. As we drove, the world seemed made of crystal. The trees, especially-all covered over-were just beautiful, sparkling under the full moon and streetlights along the way. Finally, we turned into our parking lot. I sighed, mentally saying goodbye to the beauty.
Then, as we walked to our unit, I looked in amazement at the one scraggly little tree in front of it. It, too, was coated with ice and was reflecting the light in the most glorious fashion. It was stunning.
At that moment I felt God's presence and the lesson came home to me. Beauty was no one's personal possession. As an attribute of God, infinite Spirit, beauty is spiritual and equally available to all. I realized that since man coexists with God as His idea, he can never really be without beauty. I felt the presence of Christ, Truth.
In the days following, an interesting thing happened. I began to get new and lovely decorating ideas for our apartment. This was somewhat wondrous to me, as I'd never had much talent in this direction. But, step by step, I saw how to make things lovelier and less crowded. After a while, our place changed dramatically. It felt roomier and was truly beautiful. Even our view, because of some landscaping changes, had improved.
In Retrospection and Introspection, Mrs. Eddy makes an arresting statement regarding the effect of the Christ on everyday places and situations that Jesus found himself in. Speaking of times when he was with his disciples, she says, ''When he was with them, a fishing-boat became a sanctuary, and the solitude was peopled with holy messages from the All-Father'' (p. 91). When the Christ is present, an ordinary fishing boat becomes a sanctuary, reflecting God's power and glory. And the Psalmist says of God, ''And he built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established for ever'' (Psalms 78:69). Fishing boats can even seem like palaces when the Christ, Love's expression, is felt and lived!
As we let heaven reign within us, through living the qualities of the kingdom, we feel more of Christ's continual presence enlightening and transforming our experience. We see more and more of God's loveliness wherever we are. This is true beauty. And we can find it everywhere.