One afternoon last fall, my run took me across Harvard Bridge in Boston. The air was brisk, with hydrangea-pink clouds soaring over the boathouses where students were gathering to train for the year's biggest regatta.
As a journalist, I tend always to check facts and figures - just in case I need them sometime. I could have told you that there were 86 sailboats out that afternoon; seven "shells" racing across the water; and 53 white geese pecking at the grass along the towpath.
I could also have told you that I passed 24 people walking toward me on the bridge. And only two of them had their eyes turned toward a sunset of extraordinary brilliance. Salmon, mauve, and crimson clouds were catching the slanting sun and being reflected in the satin waters of the Charles River.
Momentarily, my exhilaration collapsed in dismay at, and even contempt for, their blindness. How could they possibly miss this blazing harvest of beauty? But that foolishness did not last long. Who was I to establish their priorities for them? Tell them what to notice, what is beautiful, even what they should be thinking?
The rest of that four-mile run was taken up with adjusting my thought. Minding my own business without loving others less. Establishing in consciousness my inseparability (and theirs) from God's goodness. And reaffirming the eternal perfection of God's creation. To me, this is a way to pray for humanity - much more helpful than just standing in judgment.
It occurred to me that those people were probably longing just as earnestly as I was for the inner sense of beauty that scene symbolized. We all had that universal yearning for health and happiness, love and peace, security and prosperity.
What I've learned through a study of the Bible is that all such basic human needs have spiritual counterparts, and that's where our search must always begin. A deeper understanding of God is everyone's need, and the more actively we perceive our life and that of others as spiritual, the more we enjoy wholeness and harmony.
Although we don't just e-mail our order to God and wait for overnight delivery, divine goodness comes swiftly to those who trust in Him. Christ Jesus knew this, and demonstrated it in many ways. He healed instantaneously, quickly stilled a storm at sea, and found food for thousands without being near a supermarket.
As Mary Baker Eddy puts it: "Jesus required neither cycles of time nor thought in order to mature fitness for perfection and its possibilities. He said that the kingdom of heaven is here, and is included in Mind; that while ye say, There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest, I say, Look up, not down, for your fields are already white for the harvest; and gather the harvest by mental, not material processes" ("Unity of Good," pgs. 11-12).
Something similar could have been said to all of us on Harvard Bridge that day: " 'The kingdom of heaven is here.' To find beauty, serenity, health, in your life, don't focus on the traffic and the frazzled pedestrians; don't even expect to find heaven in the dazzling harmonies of the sailboats, the fair-weather clouds, the swooping gulls, and the vast expanse of burnished water. Look beyond them - beyond material processes - toward 'perfection and its possibilities.' "
The regeneration that came to those whom Jesus healed was quick and thorough because he did not put trust in material processes. He understood that God is All and is the divine Spirit. All power and perfection belong to God. Materiality, being the opposite of God, really has no power and can't attain perfection.
This understanding was Jesus' spiritual sense. Many people believe he expressed it to a greater degree than anyone else ever has. It surely afforded him life-giving power over material conditions, and he encouraged us to experience this power, too.
Health, happiness, peace, security, and prosperity are established facts to spiritual sense. They are already included in our true nature as cherished children of God. And as our own consciousness of present spiritual good increases, we see human needs met, too. With God, we never miss a harvest - or a beautiful sky!