There are so many ways to look at time. We say time flies. We also say it hangs heavy on our hands. We might facetiously agree with Einstein that time is relative.
Particularly interesting to me has been a unique description of what a year represents, offered in the Christian Science textbook. One way of seeing it is as "space for repentance" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 598). To me, that implies opportunity - the ability to improve, to change for the better.
I used to delight in writing out a list of new-year resolutions each year. There were always many ways I could see to improve my life, my time, work, home, relationships - you name it. And it made me feel good to get them down on paper, even though experience had told me that this made little or no difference in the actual fulfillment of these resolutions. In fact, writing them down often gave me the false satisfaction of having done something through my mere desire for progress.
But the concept of a year as being "space for repentance" is useful every single day of the year. It reminds me that I have a purpose. God has given me perfection and the power to express it. Repenting - improving thought, learning the truth - is the means of understanding this fact.
Each new morning can bring fresh opportunities if you're watching for them. One opportunity is to express gratitude for every new day. What a gift a day is! Every one of us has this gift, with no strings attached. We can waste a day or use it to good advantage. We can spoil it with negative thinking and speaking or sweeten it with love and caring for one another. I like to think of each day as the only day I have; I can live in neither yesterday nor tomorrow.
Many changes come about as a result of our own daily thoughts and words and acts. Those changes work for good or for bad. Change for the better in life can be regarded as related to our view of how God has made us.
You might think of this as a window-washing project. Suppose you found yourself trapped in a house where the windows were all covered with grime, so that not a single thing could be seen through them. Then one day you scratched one of them with a fingernail and saw a tiny white light. Upon closer examination, you saw color through the scratch. Wouldn't your next impulse be to enlarge that scratch? Gradually, you'd be able to see, beyond your dark confines, a whole bright world outside.
Is repentance in order? Christ Jesus said, "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4:17). In a way, he could have been saying, "Wash your windows!" The space of a year offers plenty of opportunities for window washing, for gaining clearer views of good from God, which, as Jesus said, is right "at hand."
Even more wonderful is the opportunity to be outside of that darkened house altogether and see all the heaven that is at hand! And in this example, the "windows" we look through are our present thoughts. They need to be cleaned up and made brighter by our showing forth - reflecting - God. A dark house and grimy windows would suggest that somewhere the light of God was not shining through. How could we tolerate that when it's not true?
More than a material measurement of time, a year can be seen as providing the opportunity in which to adopt more spiritual conceptions of life; to bring healing to a world in disarray and deterioration; to realize the kingdom of heaven, which is present right here.
This does not take place by the mere passage of time. Our home, our work, our play, our world - they all await our own touch.
You may think you have little to offer the world in the coming year - that as just one human being your contribution makes little difference. But you might ask if the life of one man, Jesus, made only a little difference. His example, which he expected others to follow, certainly opened up a new world of healing for humanity. One we've barely begun to explore. And the new year is a good time to discover more of it.
You can visit the home page of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, at (www.tfccs.com).