I recently completed a one-day, 100-mile bicycle trip. That was the longest distance I've biked in a single day.
The course, in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada, was a large loop along little-traveled roads, past breathtaking scenery, with not a single stoplight and only one stop sign. It was referred to as a "century ride," as such events commonly are, because of the distance.
The route began at a considerable altitude and coursed several high-mountain passes. Pedaling up the first long incline, labeled "Dead man summit" on the map, I wondered briefly if it had been named for a biker. Despite my fatigue, the day involved some enlivening spiritual climbing, paralleling those long, steep grades.
Fragments from a hymn started recurring to me: "I climb, with joy, the heights of Mind,/ To soar o'er time and space;/ I yet shall know as I am known/ And see Thee face to face" ("Christian Science Hymnal" No. 136). I knew that Mind, spelled with a capital M, referred to God, or what the Scriptures call "the mind of Christ" (I Cor. 2:16). Wasn't the hymn pointing to a spiritual ascent, a lifting of thought to a higher altitude? From there I could begin to know myself as the divine Mind knows me. What a beautiful aim - to know ourselves as we are known. To see ourselves as we are seen by God, as the very expression of divine good! To realize what divine Mind already realizes, that our ability, stamina, and intelligence are not the stuff of personal accomplishment, not fuel for a personal ego, but are solely of Him! No wonder the climbing is with joy!
That hymn, though, also talks about soaring over time and space. Rolling along at 15 m.p.h., I felt sorely off pace. Of course, the poetic imagery of soaring is not physical. It's metaphysical. It points to an ascent of thought, not of bike and biker. Only later did I connect the move above time or distance as a move above faulty knowing, false beliefs, and misconceptions about myself.
For instance, did I believe a body that is x years old can only do y amount of activity? If so, was I knowing myself as I am known? No. God doesn't think of us as a certain age, as having traveled so far, with only so much more left in us. Whether the yardstick is a bike ride, a career, or a short or long life span, the yardstick itself is foreign to God.
Limitation never figures into the way He knows us. Frankly, human gauges can't measure God-bestowed qualities such as ability, stamina, and intelligence - the very things needed if we are to climb higher. Limitless Mind knows we each include these qualities beyond measure. There is a joyous freedom in knowing ourselves as ideas of infinite Mind, without the confinements of time and space.
The Christian Science textbook, Mary Baker Eddy's "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," states: "Mind's infinite ideas run and disport themselves. In humility they climb the heights of holiness" (Pg. 514). It's both humbling and freeing to know ourselves as idea, dependent on the Mind conceiving us.
Only where there are mortal measurements are there mortal egos, first place and last place, winner and loser. Knowing ourselves as we are known takes us above the problems of mortality in small and large ways.
As we climb higher through prayer, petty jealousies and rivalries - the products of mortal egos - begin to drop away. Then limiting measurements, and the egotism they spawn, no longer take a toll on our energies or on knowing who we really are. Spiritual knowing transforms human experience. Consequently, this is a plus for all endeavors, even things like completing long bike rides.
A century, whether of years or of miles, is not much in the scales of eternity. Then again, a single moment, a single step, a single round of a bicycle wheel, might be immense if filled with clear knowing of ourselves in the way Mind knows us. It sees us not as mortals with egos to be inflated by crossing the finish line first, or deflated by not crossing it at all. God knows us as His own precious ideas, loved, cherished, unlimited by measurements. Perfect as He is perfect.
Look for other articles about spiritual climbing in a weekly magazine called the Christian Science Sentinel.