AS a young child, I lived in a new neighborhood on the top of a hill. Some of the lots had beautiful cliff views of the valley. In summertime, the hillsides bloomed with white, yellow, and orange wildflowers. This made the scene spectacular. Looking up, you could see the clear blue sky, and in the distance snow-topped mountains.
When I felt upset, hurt, or just a little blue, I would sit on the cliffs and gaze at the view. This never failed to soothe me. Yet, it wasn't just the atmosphere that was soothing; as I sat there, time after time, my thought would naturally turn to God.
People sometimes have a special place they like to go for peace and comfort. On this hill I always became aware of God's presence. Being surrounded by His handiwork quieted my thought enough that I would hear His guiding thoughts. I could feel His love in that place. Much more than a valley, wildflowers, sky, or mountains, it was feeling the presence of God there that satisfied my longings. And though I've been back to that place a few times for memory's sake, that view is now really a place in my heart.
I'm sure many of us have days when we'd like to return to our childhood. I sometimes long to sit on those cliffs, pass the time of day, and literally look out on that vista. As nice and comforting as that would be, I've found that physically returning to this special place isn't necessary in order for me to gain my peace and receive divine direction. I've found through prayer that comfort, peace, and guidance from the Lord are with me wherever I am, wherever I go.
God's presence isn't something we have to hike to the highest mountain to feel, or dive to the deepest depths to see. Rather, it is something found in our understanding of who God is - something found when we endeavor to keep our thoughts centered in God. Then the benefits come naturally into our lives. We tend to regain our peace; harmony is more and more the norm; we feel trust and expect good experiences.
Admittedly, in the middle of everyday turmoil it can seem pretty difficult to maintain an awareness that God is near. People do different things to maintain their inner peace. I've found that practicing Christian Science is what satisfies my longing soul because it teaches me how my relationship with God is practical.
The textbook of Christian Science, published by Mary Baker Eddy in 1875, explains how to find and maintain peace in any place. For example, one passage comments on a statement made by Christ Jesus: " 'When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and, when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.'... The closet typifies the sanctuary of Spirit, the door of which shuts out sinful sense but lets in Truth, Life, and Love" ("Science and Health with Key the Scriptures," Pgs. 14-15). Truth, Life, and Love are names for God. And in prayer, communion with God, anything that would distract our attention from Truth, Life, and Love needs to be put out of thought, so we can listen to God and hear Him.
Turning your thought to God in prayer, you will hear His voice. Then the fact of His closeness to you will become more evident. And because you are His spiritual image, you can express the nature of God in your life. That "sanctuary of Spirit" isn't some mysterious place outside of you. It's within. When you turn your thought to God, you can hear, see, feel good. Then you can expect to see "openly" the healing result of your prayer.
No, it's not necessary to have a scenic view in order to talk to God, although it's great to find one when you can. Sometimes when I'm feeling I need more quietude, I pray in my own backyard or front yard, under the red oaks or under the stars. But I can say that wherever I am when I turn my thought to God for guidance, I find His guidance. Wherever I pray to Him for peace, I find peace. Wherever I ask to feel His comfort, I find comfort. So will you.
You can read other articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.