It's true that most people believe the year begins in January, but I know it really begins in September. I live in an American college town, and September is when students return from summer vacation, bright-eyed and energetic. There's a wonderful sense of getting a fresh start. I can't help feeling a surge of energy myself, a yearning to tackle new projects and break new ground.
The beginning of September and the beginning of a new year aren't really different from other days. Yet it's a good idea to have a time to pause and take stock of where we've been and where we're going. Do we need new resolutions, a new agenda? I think we do, and I'd like to propose a spiritual agenda. You may feel you already have enough to do -- selecting courses and choosing extracurricular activities -- but a spiritual agenda can be the most important part of anyone's life.
My first suggestion is that you spend time learning about God. He is the supreme creator, the architect and builder of the universe. He governs and preserves His creation, including you yourself. For me, a book by Mary Baker Eddy has cast a great deal of light on what the Bible teaches about God. Mrs. Eddy discovered Christian Science, and her primary book is titled Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. The chapter called "Recapitulation" opens with three questions and answers about the nature of God (pp. 465-466), and then on page 587 we find this spiritual definition: "God. The great I am; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence."
If this strikes you as abstract, keep in mind that God is your Redeemer and healer. He is with you, every step of the way, during the difficult days -- even days when your ideals and your worthwhile goals seem out of reach.
Item number 2 on my agenda is to learn about Christ Jesus. He has been called "the master Christian" and "the great Metaphysician." Jesus was anointed by God to be the Saviour of mankind. He is the Exemplar and Teacher. His teachings, found in the four Gospels, are unparalleled, and so are his healings, which conquered sin, sickness, and death. After his crucifixion, Jesus himself triumphed over death through his resurrection and his ascension.
Item 3 on the agenda is to set aside time each day to pray and to think about your true, spiritual identity. One result of learning about God is that we understand our own identity, because we are the reflection of God. The good qualities we express are derived from God -- such qualities as vitality, honesty, patience, compassion. Spiritual qualities like these were so evident in Jesus' life. Expressing these same qualities is a way of following his example.
You can pray daily to affirm your spiritual link with your creator. Then you'll realize you don't have to rely merely on personal talents or skills. Rather, you reflect unlimited abilities from God. Paul the Apostle wrote, "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). A measure of humility is needed to say, "God, I know I can't do this without You," but such humility gets you pointed in the right direction for spiritual progress.
One day I was walking along the river in my college town. A young man came along, dressed in a hockey uniform and wearing roller blades! He was speed and grace personified, flying along like the wind. In less than half a minute he had vanished in the distance. That's how our spiritual progress should be: graceful, unfettered -- a celebration of the Life that is God.
Awareness of our spiritual link with God makes every day special. We find we can express joy that is not fragile or subject to shifting conditions. (Referring to Psalm 91 in the Bible, a young friend said recently, "We're not under a cloud of gloom. We're 'under the shadow of the Almighty.' ") Praying about some of your problems may require persistence. But God is working with you. He has the last word about everything that concerns you.
* Other articles on Christian Science can be found in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.