Open return

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

There are those low points in life. This was one of them. I'd been living in a foreign country for quite some time. For months I'd been homeless, sleeping in parks and abandoned houses. My friends were prostitutes and drug dealers - lost people like me, trapped and struggling for survival in a world of mental chaos and distrust. Hell, perhaps.

It's difficult to say how it is that someone can fall so far into swirling confusion that chaos seems trustworthy and integrity seems blindingly painful. Disappointing life circumstances, a series of progressively worse decisions, ignorance, naivet. Everyone's story is a little different.

But on this particular day, I was so destitute that I was unaware of the busy activity of people around me. In the center of the city, on a street corner, there I sat, sobbing.

When I was growing up, my mother was close to her Christian faith. Through this, I'd heard that I was "a child of God." I learned that God is Love, and Life, too, and that God gave me my life.

Humbly now, I reached out with all my heart to Life, for guidance and for some assurance that I hadn't been discarded.

Just then a man put some money in my hand and asked sincerely if I was all right. His strong eyes looked into mine and seemed to say "you don't belong here." The kindness and strength of his gesture startled me.

I didn't belong there!

Soon, I stood up and searched for the wadded, ripped, open-dated airplane ticket that was hidden in my backpack. And I headed for the airport.

Without any apologies about my appearance or distressed condition, I handed the people at the counter my ticket. And within 24 hours, I'd returned to a safe place to pray, heal, and (slowly) move forward.

No one belongs in poverty or deserves to live with addiction, or loneliness, or self-hate. The Bible says the one loving, gentle God is surrounding us wherever we are. Psalm 139 asks "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there" (verses 7 and 8, New International Version).

For me, that gentle man's integrity and kindness were proof that God had heard my prayer. In that moment, I felt loved, adored, and respected by Life - for the first time in a long, long while. Feeling God's love awakened me to my empowerment as His child. Willingness to listen to Life's direction gave me confidence to walk away from a situation that was self-destructive.

Over time, a change in the way I thought about things lifted me out of mental anguish. It permanently changed the quality of my life for the better. And it opened up a more heavenly understanding of existence.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, saw heaven as "harmony; the reign of Spirit; government by divine Principle; spirituality; bliss; the atmosphere of Soul [God]" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 587). We all deserve to live in mental harmony and bliss. This atmosphere exists ... now. It so often seems not to. But it will become more tangible to anyone who deepens his or her understanding of the innate spiritual nature we each have as God's sons and daughters. A change in mental state improves the circumstances of life.

I like to think of my relationship with God as being like the open-dated plane ticket I had in my backpack. Like that ticket, God is always available. We never have to stay in degrading, hellish, self-destructive experiences. At any time we can go to God and allow a spiritual harmony into our lives. We can reach out humbly, asking for and accepting the direction that Life wants to give. Heaven here.

Now therefore ye are

no more strangers

and foreigners,

but fellow-citizens

with the saints, and of the household of God.

Ephesians 2:19

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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