As I write this, I hear the continuous, reassuring roar of the surf, the syncopated, soul-stirring rhythm of waves breaking on the Atlantic shore.
That great epic of the high seas, "Moby Dick," is close at hand. To author Herman Melville, whose remarkable novel celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, the ocean was a metaphor for the source of life, the truth of existence, the transcendental undercurrents of reality. I know what he means. The ocean inspires the contemplation of deep and infinite things. It makes me think, too, about Truth, about Life, about the everlasting higher things of the Spirit. In other words, it makes me think about God.
I'm thinking about one aspect of God's nature in particular: completeness. I'm learning that people, animals, nature, are really concepts - spiritual concepts, mighty and permanent ideas conceived by God. You and I are the expression of the divine Mind of the universe. We're beautiful and complete. Right now. Forever.
That may sound pretty theoretical. But you and I actually have lots of practice differentiating between a symbol and the real thing. An ink-on-the-page numeral - this 7 - could be destroyed. But the number wouldn't be touched. It's a concept. It can't be altered, diminished, disgraced, damaged, or destroyed. It's perfect. Lasting. Complete.
The good news is, the same goes for us. The great Spirit made everyone in a perfect way. We're so much more authentic, enduring, and cool than a physical body with a brain inside.
What's more, this knowledge is practical. I'm finding that the more I see myself and others as God's idea and expression, the happier I am. It's only natural. Things change when you change your perspective.
And that's where the ocean comes in. A while back, gazing at the ocean from this same place, I thought about my life in the light of something the founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote: "Unselfish ambition, noble life-motives, and purity, - these constituents of thought, mingling, constitute individually and collectively true happiness, strength, and permanence" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 58).
I felt I was doing OK in the "noble life-motives" department. I had high "it's-not-about-making-money" career ideals. But I wasn't doing as well with "unselfish ambition" and "purity." I got caught up in the egocentric currents of my profession. I felt flawed - incomplete.
But as I thought this through, it occurred to me that my true identity is actually similar to waves in the sea. I thought about how waves are at one with the ocean and express its essence, grandeur, continuity, constancy, and force. Each wave is complete with the fullness of the ocean. Each flows seamlessly and inseparably with the sea.
My identity, and the identity of everyone, flows from and with divine Spirit. When people are searching for a better understanding of their identity, God-originated waves of wholeness, holiness, innocence, are rolling in all the time on the shores of consciousness. They don't include some good qualities but not others, e.g. - intelligence, but not initiative; integrity, but not love; creativity, but not prosperity; idealism, but not unselfishness. Identity comes from God complete. Nothing is missing or withheld.
Suddenly I saw myself not as a mortal with deficiencies but as an immortal, spiritual concept - permanent and whole. I remembered a passage from the Bible: "I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it" (Eccl. 3:14). I realized it was talking about me. I am what God doeth!
I wrote down this prayer: "Thank you, God, for the gift of noble life motives, and I know that unselfish ambition and purity are just as natural. Help me feel and see the good, tangible influence in my life of 'these constituents of thought, mingling.' "
Gradually, I've seen my prayer answered. I still care about my career. But I've redefined it. It's now blended into a larger structure of unselfish activity, including family and church. It has blossomed in new ways.
The divine influence of Spirit transforms desires, motives, and goals. It washes over you with wave after wave of peace, purity, and power - with waves of completeness.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor