A SHORT time ago I had a dream. The thought of it has remained. There was hatred, conflict, and tyranny in a city. These were overcome as a handful of people continued to pray and refused to consent to the terror. Are dreams of such victories the stuff of fantasy? It's an important question. The dream I had would be nothing more than fantasy if there were no solid, spiritual aspirations in us that indicate the reality of man's oneness with God.
As is sometimes the case in the Bible, metaphors like those of dreams can point us toward spiritual reality. In the Old Testament, Jacob had a vision of angels that marked a turning point in his life. Joseph, perplexed about Mary, had a vision that opened his eyes to the holy experience he would witness in the birth of Jesus. And Peter, struggling over whether the Gentiles had a proper place in the early Christian Church, had a vision that resolved the question in favor of spiritual receptivity over merely dogmatic tradition.
There is a cynicism that discounts spiritual illumination, perhaps fearing that spiritual hope and perceptions are unequal to the harsh extremes of human experience. But when cynicism disparages the strength of spiritual insight and understanding -- especially in regard to visions of God's omnipotence in the affairs of mankind -- it's a flawed and shortsighted belief. There's Christian and spiritual realism in the wide-awake moral courage that confronts evil and refuses to assign the destiny of man to the presumed grip of evil influences.
Certainly we don't need fantasies. We don't need dreams or visions that leave us ensnared in disillusionment, alienation, despair, or worldly ambition. But there are spiritual perceptions that stir and move us to healing and Christly reconciliation. They grow out of prayer that longs for spiritual direction.
We can emerge from the materialism and cynicism that imprison our lives. A brief counsel in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, marks the way. ``Emerge gently from matter into Spirit,'' it advises. ``Think not to thwart the spiritual ultimate of all things, but come naturally into Spirit through better health and morals and as the result of spiritual growth.''1
The emergence from matter into Spirit comes not only from large, sometimes dramatic events, but more often from almost-unnoticed choices and judgments that we make daily. Read the writings of the Apostle Paul. There was indeed one giant event in his life. It was a vision that stopped him in his tracks. It redirected the course of his life. It led to his healing of physical and spiritual blindness. But beyond that, he made countless choices not to turn back because of disappointment, failure, ignorance, or personal limitations. He never abandoned the radical Christianity that first revealed to him the perfectibility of man that appears as Christ dawns in human consciousness. The way Paul said it, at one point, was simple: ``For we are saved by hope.''2
There is hope in Christian Science. A hope born of understanding that God is infinite Mind and that man is the expression of this divine Mind and that this reality must increasingly come to light. Christ is the divine message from God that man is His son. Christ causes us to foresee the reality of infinite Love, of pure Mind, and in so doing brings healing to our lives. Christ causes transformation in us and changes in the world.
Spiritual reality may burst upon human consciousness in bright moments and in healings of dramatic import. But it also comes silently -- gradually but irreversibly uplifting what we love and most want from Life.
Farseeing prophets of great spiritual sensitivity are needed today. Our emergence out of matter into the reality of Spirit's creation has begun, even if slightly, when we feel within us a hunger for something more than we now understand of God. We can have the vision of God's infinite nature expressed through man and proved in Christianly scientific healing of personal and social ills. Long to see more of that vision fulfilled in your life, and you'll discover God providing what's needed to bring it to pass.
1Science and Health, p. 485. 2Romans 8:24. This article is a condensed version of an editorial that appeared in the July 20 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Where there is no vision, the people perish. Proverbs 29:18