Not long ago, I escaped from one of the coldest northern winters in several years to visit members of my family in the African sun. Eighteen hours of flying, and a switch from windchills of minus 35 degrees F. to "wind warms" of 35 degrees C. (a span of 130 degrees F.), threw me into a happy dizziness in which I soon lost any clear sense of place and time.
I swapped the Big Dipper for the Southern Cross, and admired it just as much. I swapped the snow and ice for rolling cane fields overlooking the Indian Ocean, and was more than comfortable with the deal. Within 24 hours, I had no idea which day of the week it was, and had even less idea of the time of day.
How easy it is to lose count of time! Change season, change terrain, change stars, and your thinking often changes, too. How could I ever have been so obsessed with clocks, calendars, television schedules, and even oven timers? I wondered.
Time stood still, but I didn't. Mentally, I sprang forward. Praying seemed easier and deeper. I didn't drop off to sleep over my daily spiritual study. I found new discoveries in the Scriptures.
A companion book to the Bible, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, put the concept of time into helpful perspective for me, by describing it as "Mortal measurements; limits, in which are summed up all human acts, thoughts, beliefs, opinions, knowledge ..." (pg. 595). That view of time is taken further with this idea: "The objects of time and sense disappear in the illumination of spiritual understanding, and Mind [God] measures time according to the good that is unfolded" (pg. 584).
There has never been more or less of good than there is now. And there never will be. Why? Because good comes from God, who is infinite and eternal. So good is, like God, ceaseless, unlimited, and always and already present.
But good is likely to seem elusive, problematical, or unattainable - or always happening to someone else - until we understand and accept the spiritual fact that we are God's beneficiaries - "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ," according to St. Paul (Rom. 8:17). Good from God is securely ours. To understand this to be a fact is to remove from our lives futile longings for the past. It is what promotes a vital awareness of the present.
A sense of good based on materiality experiences fluctuations, frustrations, and disappointments. There is nothing stable in any form of materialism.
But a concept of good as spiritual, as being from God, makes good independent of the clock, calendar, and map. We might think it would be wonderful if all we needed to do to escape time's enslavement was to get as far away as possible from our daily routines. But, as is so often found true, it isn't physical change that we need but a permanent vacation from limited, mortal thinking. The change must be from preoccupation with what is material to an engagement with God, the divine Mind.
On my vacation, I was reminded that children set an example that adults often fail to appreciate. They anticipate parties, shopping expeditions, trips to the zoo, by counting the "sleeps," not the hours and minutes. They don't bother much with detail. Time isn't something that crowds in on them or bullies them or confuses them. They don't feel pressure, but rather excitement. They don't fear the clock, but see it as a friend, taking especial delight in learning to tell the time. For children, goodness is never more than a few hoorays away.
Do you want more of a conviction that good is trustworthy and always available in your life? Then seek to understand, and acknowledge, that anything good has its source in God. For, as the Psalmist reassures us, "The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.... The goodness of God endureth continually" (Ps. 33:5, Ps. 52:1).
A thousand years in thy
sight are but as yesterday
when it is past, and as
a watch in the night.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society