Retreat to Where?
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
Opening a newspaper to the life/living section recently, I was met with this: "Feeling the pressure? Take a trip to your inner self." The article that followed recommended the benefits of leaving all the cares and worries of this frenetic world behind and going on a retreat. Many celebrities were quoted as endorsing this idea. Locations mentioned ranged from convents and Trappist monasteries to Indian temples and remote Scottish islands. Such environments are thought conducive to meditation and prayer, to getting in touch with one's inner self.
The idea of seeking sanctuary is not new. Seeking to hear God, Moses went up Mount Horeb (or Sinai) to get away from the ranting of the children of Israel. Christ Jesus fasted in the wilderness for many days in communion with God. Great spiritual leaders as well as ordinary people have sought out the special solace that comes from being alone with the Supreme Being.
It is not practical or even possible for most of us to go up a mountain. Anyone can, however, find spiritual calm. We can have serenity right where we are. There is inner peace to be enjoyed, and an inner self to become acquainted with, but a change in location won't of itself reveal them.
Instead, people have found, sometimes in extremely adverse conditions, that blessings and spiritual growth come from drawing close to God, through knowing Him better. They have been lifted out of unhappy circumstances and have been able to find peace right where they were. The Bible says in James, "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you" (4:8). God is universal, always at hand. We are never separated from Him. We are all His loved children, and He is our Father and Mother. Fear and worry make us feel we are cut off and separate from good, but this is not actually true, even when it looks so.
Joseph drew close to God while going through great trials. The book of Genesis shows how this protected him during many ordeals and eventually led to his being rewarded. Betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, then unjustly imprisoned, Joseph was able to endure mental and physical hardships and emerge stronger for them, expressing greater and greater grace. How? The Bible implies Joseph walked with God in thought. It is where our thoughts abide that is of primary importance.
Jesus was a humble carpenter who walked around the Holy Land. But his thoughts were always conscious of God. Jesus lived to show the world that God is infinite Love. He served God and was blessed. He healed and saved. He said we can do the same.
You can be conscious of your own very special relation to your Father-Mother God. When you feel one with Him, peace is yours, and your identity is revealed to be perfect and spiritual. You are as perfect as He is. We all need to know this identity and cherish it. It's the most important thing we have.
Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven-peace-is within. Nothing we need is outside of God, for everything we really have is in Him and is ours through understanding. God is blessing us right now, working on our behalf all the time. When we lift our thought to know Him, we see this to be true, and we heal ourselves and others. What we are learning of Him takes shape in better health, in prosperity, and in success.
Christian Science shows that God is infinite Love. The woman who discovered Christian Science in 1866, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, "Love, the divine Principle, is the Father and Mother of the universe, including man" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 256). Drawing closer to God in your consciousness lifts you out of pressing human conditions. You recognize who you are and find yourself free and unconfined.
Far from retreating from us, God is forever expressing Himself. We can feel the perfect peace that comes from knowing ourselves as none other than this expression. Even as we walk the earth, we can take rest in the kingdom of heaven. In God. In infinite Love.
Other articles on Christian Science can be found in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.