Time for a thought-shift

A Christian Science perspective on daily life

According to the current edition of the "Concise Oxford English Dictionary," time tops the list of the 25 most commonly used nouns. That the commodity known as time has become one of society's chief obsessions is not news.

As with other finite commodities, having more time is proverbially no guarantee of happiness or productivity. Viewed as a finite interval in which to live and work, a span of time is forever illusive, fleeting, irretrievable. But the dictionary also offers a definition of time as "continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future, regarded as a whole." And this points in a new direction.

Consider the uplifting effect of a thought-shift that focuses our attention on "continued progress" instead of just more hours. That could mean great things for the world. If more of us approached each moment as an opportunity to advance the good in individual lives, stress and competition would naturally give way to greater calm and truer productivity.

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Christian Science takes such a thought-shift even further, asserting that time has no divine source and is therefore actually powerless to bring good or evil. Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "The objects of time and sense disappear in the illumination of spiritual understanding, and Mind [God] measures time according to the good that is unfolded" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 584).

This marks a sea change from clock-watching and fear-filled planning to trusting that God fills our existence with intelligent purpose. Individually and collectively, we can shift consciousness to see that God, not personal capability, is the source of all true joy and accomplishment. We can expect to see our reliance on "spiritual understanding" remove whatever barrier or limitations block the path forward.

What Mrs. Eddy discovered in Christian Science, she accepted wholeheartedly for herself and others – that God, good, is the Creator of all life and action. This theology, elucidated in Science and Health, rests on the message in the first chapter of Genesis, which states unequivocally that God created man and woman in His image and likeness, having "dominion" over all, through His power.

The thought-shift from material to spiritual that forms the bedrock of Christian Science practice is not dependent on time and the number of years a person has walked the earth. Mrs. Eddy's writings abound with ideas that are both practical and life-transforming, which propel one toward freedom over time constraints. Her own life set an inspiring example – she accomplished more in her last decades on earth than most people do in a lifetime, evidence of how deferring to God's wisdom provides one with the necessary resources of all kinds to achieve any worthwhile goal.

Perhaps these words hint at her approach, one that will also allow us all to accomplish more, and do it more freely: "We own no past, no future, we possess only now" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 12).

Now is the time to recognize that dominion over our days lies in never doubting God's commitment to care for each detail of His creation. His gift to us includes calm energy and the space in which to accomplish good works. Nobody lacks the ability to trust each moment to Him, and in so doing to alleviate worry about tomorrow's rent payments and health concerns, even about the larger issues of genocide and terror threats.

Why not take hold of this moment and shift thought away from material preoccupations, toward the truth of spiritual existence? A burst of God's light – that "illumination of spiritual understanding" – is waiting to inspire each of us with the ability to accomplish what He outlines and to measure the day according to the good we've seen and done.

Adapted from an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel .

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