UNTIL I heard a self-educated man tell what his life was like before he learned to read, I'd never thought much about how illiteracy affects one's perception of the world. He knew very little about life beyond his own neighborhood. Although he'd occasionally met people from other cities, he had little idea where those cities were. Knowing only how to live by crime, he ended up in prison, where he finally learned to read. This opened up a whole new view of the world--a world he'd never known before, even though he'd lived in it all his life. He discovered new options and began to make better choices about how to live. Crime was no longer his occupation, and he turned to productive pursuits. Learning to read words redefines our understanding of the world around us. But there is another kind of literacy that has an even more profound impact on our view of the world and how effectively we function in it. This could be called spiritual literacy--that is, the ability to "read the signs of God's presence. When we fail to cultivate this ability, we are left trying to make sense of the broad vistas of spiritual reality from the limited, distorted perspective of what the physical senses tell us. And the choices we make are then based on this inaccurate evidence. Christ Jesus is the best example we have of what it means to live a spiritually literate life. Where materially-minded observers saw a sick person, Jesus perceived man's perfection and healed the sick. Christ Jesus transcended physical limitations. Christianity as Jesus taught and lived it wasn't a coping mechanism that reconciled people to putting up with the harshness of a matter-based world. It shows us the reality of spiritual man and the spiritual universe, created by God. Christ Jesus gave us acces s to a new view of reality that expands the definition of "possible far beyond the constraints materiality would place on us. We read in Matthew's Gospel that Jesus once rebuked unbelievers who were asking for "a sign from heaven, saying, "O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times? Today scientists have learned to detect the minutest particles of matter, yet most people have still not learned to know the signs of God's presence. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, noted in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "All nature teaches God's love to man, but man cannot love God supremely and set his whole affections on spiritual things, while loving the material or trusting in it more than in the spiritual. The ability to read the message of God's love isn't a special gift reserved only for select people. It's available to all, and the Bible shows us how to attain this understanding of God's spiritual creation and how to put into practice in our daily lives what we learn. A book that many people have found to be an invaluable aid in understanding and applying the spiritual message of the Bible is Science and Health by Mrs. Eddy, referred to above. As the spiritual facts of being, which these books reveal, d awn in thought, our view of the world expands to include new options. Where disease had appeared to dominate, we see that health is natural; where lack had seemed to be the only game in town, we find ourselves able to draw on the abundance God gives; where we'd once thought we faced a dead end, we embrace the unlimited opportunities of spiritual living. Then, like the man who learned to read in prison, we gain a new dimension of freedom and discover a world we'd never known before, even though we've been li ving in it all the time.