The renowned flutist Sir James Galway performed at this season's opening concert of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Before the concert, Sir James was asked in a local radio interview how he coped with the public demand to keep playing the same old standards week after week.
Galway's answer was refreshing. He said it was rather like saying prayers with a child night after night. As the child grows to love the commitment more, the prayers are extended. They go beyond "God bless Mommy and Daddy" to include the new dog. Later, a sick friend. Then, a troubled world.
In the same way, said Galway, he tries always to enlarge his view of the work he is playing. "Look at this bit," he'll say to himself. "I missed this," or "I missed that." In this way, he sees or learns something new every time he tackles a piece of music.
It's much the same with spiritual development, especially as Mary Baker Eddy explained it in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "...Love propagates anew the higher joys of Spirit, which have no taint of earth. Each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love" (p. 66). No time or space there for looking back, for the repetition of old patterns of thought, the routines of past comfort.
This wisdom contrasts strikingly with a world focused on "newer is better." Look, for example, at the design of clothes, cars, and electronics, and you get the impression that nothing is built to last. Marketers and moviemakers are often desperate for ways to capture and hold the attention of buyers or audiences by making everything look and feel new. Even the phrase "all new" is so widely used that it soon feels old. Such material newness, we might conclude, isn't necessarily better at all.
The kind of renewal that really counts isn't rooted in matter. It's a transformation of thought that comes from God and can never age or be depleted. As "Science and Health" puts it, God's creation "is ever appearing, and must ever continue to appear from the nature of its inexhaustible source" (p. 507).
Fresh thinking, rooted in prayer, leads people to go beyond renovated material concepts to revitalized spiritual concepts that improve their lives, including their behavior, and heal them physically.
New views of divine goodness often flourish in quiet, uncluttered mental places, where people are less likely to be molded by what everyone else is saying and doing, and more likely to hear God's voice. Here, through prayer, we become better qualified to tackle what God wants us to be and do, in the spirit of love that is His nature – and thus integral to ours.
How then can we find renewal day by day?
•Reexamine the role of the healing, renewing power of prayer, which Bible scholar Eugene Peterson once described as the most practical thing anyone can do. "It is not mystical escape," he wrote. "It is historical engagement." Christian Scientists have found that prayer, encouraged by the Bible's record of lives regenerated and restored, guarantees new perspectives on God's goodness.
•As the apostle Paul said, let the Christ-spirit transform you from within. No matter who you've been, or where you've been previously, you can enthusiastically accept the assignment to be "ambassadors for Christ," having a healing influence on friends and neighbors, communities, the world (II Cor. 5:17–20).
•Strive to grow fearless in breaking thought patterns you have outgrown in the face of new-found spiritual purpose.
With an increasingly spiritual approach, you might well find yourself on a life journey that's sparklingly different – one that attests to the fact that God's mercies and His compassion are "new every morning" (Lam. 3:22, 23).
Adapted from an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.