Back into the wilderness 40 miles. No roads. No signs or sounds of civilization. It was late summer, and it had been seven years since we last camped on the little pine-studded island.
What might have changed during those years? I wondered.
I had thought about the extremes of weather in that part of Canada's north woods. Hard winters. Windstorms. Forest fires. I figured that at least the great rocks would not be much altered. After spending thousands of years hanging around since the last glacier weighed down on them with a mile or more of vertical ice, shaping their distinct identities, seven years would be little more than an eye-blink in telling the story of those granite boulders and cliffs. But how much of the other things that I remembered - about the island, the lake, the trees and wildflowers, the animals - would be the same?
As we beached our canoes on the island's western shore, it all looked just as I had pictured it so many times. Even better. And the next day when the resident family of otters greeted us with playful snorts, I remembered their friendly curiosity from our earlier trip. It was again a happy time, a happy place.
Yet our lives aren't always like that. Some experiences and events can't be repeated or recreated. Sometimes the places, the surroundings, special things we loved, do change. And it's not always for the better.
Of course, many of the changes in our lives, in our world, are good and necessary - truly progressive and even healing. We welcome such progress. But when we confront hurtful changes, even changes that would appear to destroy something good and meaningful in our experience, it can help to consider what doesn't change. And to pray about it.
So what doesn't change? God's love for each of us; His care and guidance; His divine laws governing the universe; the fundamental spiritual nature of reality; the spirit of Christ, Truth, continuously revealing divine beauty, grace, holiness - all good - to everyone. One Bible writer saw the permanent, time-transcending nature of our relation to God when he exclaimed, "Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." This apostle went on to describe how the "things" of the physical world "shall be dissolved" and added that followers of Jesus will be diligently looking "for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (see II Pet. 3:8, 11, 13). And, again, this divine reality, "wherein dwelleth righteousness," is forever.
This observation from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, illustrates the perspective of Christian Science on the eternal, permanent nature of what God creates and of our relation to Him: "God fashions all things, after His own likeness. Life is reflected in existence, Truth in truthfulness, God in goodness, which impart their own peace and permanence" (pg. 516). And God's perpetuation of these spiritual qualities in each of us enables us to discern and demonstrate the redeeming, healing influence of what doesn't change - of the eternal laws of Life, Truth, and Love.
If we ever feel pulled off center as we make our way through the shifting sands and scenes of human existence, the unchanging divine reality and laws of God provide a rock - a safe and happy place, a steady peace, a calm conviction. Through prayer we discover the "new heavens and a new earth" of God's creating. We discover what is forever.
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. II Corinthians 3:18