Most pictures I have from my childhood show a little girl with furrowed brow, watching with resentment or curious bitterness other children licking bigger lollipops or sitting on the laps of friends and family where I was supposed to be.
Not that I always had the smallest lollipops or the fewest sweets and not to imply an unhappy childhood. I simply felt dethroned when my siblings arrived and didn't know who I was. This unsightly outlook accompanied me into my teen years until something significant happened. I realized at one point that my life had to be and was to be different, moving away from past behavior, actions, and character traits. My life from then on became a quest.
Where we come from, how our childhood has been, the experiences we've had, shape how we view ourselves until a certain point. It is this "until" that makes life interesting.
The moment we start knowing ourselves, we can do something with this knowledge. It opens two possibilities: to live a life tied to our history, or to live a life geared toward development. Heart and mind part with the past and separate history from present development. This is the quest.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, wrote the thought-provoking book,"Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." In it there's a sentence that confronted my thinking on this subject in a fundamental way: "The true theory of the universe, including man, is not in material history but in spiritual development" (pg. 547).
This is what I gleaned from that statement: 1) The universe is not a static state, but a process. It moves, it develops, it unfolds. 2) Material history does not represent the unfoldment and development of the universe.
I am very interested in the true theory of the universe, not a false one, and because of that, I study and ponder spiritual development: What is it? How can I experience it? Who am I if material history doesn't determine me? I am not finished with this kind of reasoning, but I see the glorious possibilities already unfolding.
Since I started to glimpse that my life is spiritual and developing rather than determined by physical factors and history, my health has improved considerably. And a disposition to depression and self-destructive impulses and a tendency to underestimate talents and possibilities have completely vanished.
Whether others have larger lollipops, I really don't care. There have been many challenges, light and dark times, yet I never lost the feeling that spiritual development is going on every moment, presenting spiritual richness in which there is enough for everyone, and in which love is a law. There is constant growth, development, change. To me, when viewed through the microscope of the spiritual adventurer, mental states are not states but processes.
The moving force of spiritual development is the infinite, unseen, but not unfelt, eternal Being commonly called God. And it pays to get to know this eternal Being. Actually, this is our life-purpose, because we feel at home and at ease only if we connect to this Being, or, better, if we feel the connection that is already established. That is when the journey starts.
In a conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, the fundamental question - is life all about history or all about development? - is tackled. The discussion is about rebirth, about the past, about man. Nicodemus needs some help in keeping up with Jesus' spiritual perception of life, and Jesus provides this analogy: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8).
Like the wind, there is a certain lightness about us. Like the wind, we really don't have to care about sharp edges that we might have encountered and about corners that might have been too tight. They're gone like the wind. And like the wind, we are changing our surroundings; we are moving them modestly. We are shaping our world.
Let it be a soft, gentle imprint - and let the sound that the world is perceiving from us be a friendly hum, a spring breeze, cooling the troubled heart and comforting the worried mind.