Central Park lessons
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
Say Central Park, and what leaps to mind? Images of a landscape that weaves beautiful meadows, ravines, waterways, and trees with stunning views of the New York City skyline? Sure. It's natural for anyone who has been there to think of Central Park from a being-in-it point of view - to visualize it from the ground.
After all, landscape-architect Frederick Law Olmsted's greensward in the heart of Manhattan - now 150 years since its inception - is an awesome place to rollerblade, sunbathe, row a boat, read, or just stroll and think. Olmsted's genius for aesthetic order and surprise plays out in every abrupt or gentle contour, winding path, and peekaboo view of special worlds only a stone's throw away.
From the Reservoir, Sheep Meadow, and Strawberry Fields to the Carousel, Wollman Rink, and Boat Basin, Central Park is a bucolic matrix of public places and empty spaces. In emerald springtime splendor or blanketed by snow, it's an urban refuge - New York's pastoral living room. Paradise.
It's also a paradigm. And you can see that when you get up high. While I, too, have a film reel of images of ground-level Central Park in my memory bank, overlaid on this is another visual: Central Park from an airplane.
Looking down from above you see the underlying order, the simple idea that holds this park's complex ground-level phenomena together. You see a principle.
To be specific, you see a rectangle. You see Central Park's geometry. And suddenly, it's clear. Central Park is a rectangular room, carved out of the solid mass of the city. Its four walls are the tapestry of buildings that line 5th Avenue, Central Park West, 59th and 110th Streets. Its ceiling is the sky. Additionally, the word paradise comes from an ancient Iranian word for walled garden. Yes, Central Park is paradise in an ideal form.
For me, the aerial view of Central Park is a spiritual object lesson. It reminds me that complex harmonies and enduring, simple principles are aspects not only of Olmsted's masterpiece. They are also aspects of divine Mind's master plan for you and me. And we can see this when we get a higher view.
What does a higher, Godlike view reveal? Our true Godlike perfection and infinity. Our inner stability and poetry. Our ideal nature. Beautiful, coherent, important, and whole.
Huh? "Look at me," you may well say. "My body, finances, career, and love life are a mess!" Well, that can change - by getting a higher view.
The fact is that God is above the mortal sense of things. So, too, is your identity and mine. We're made of the same stuff as God. The divine Spirit or Mind made spiritual beings, eternal ideas. (What else would a just and loving God create?) You and I are not mortals, but immortals.
This thought-shift from a material to a spiritual viewpoint is a form of prayer. And its impact is tangible. My career has newfound dignity and meaning. I've had financial, emotional, and physical healings. Sure, I face challenges. But I'm learning to face them with the carpe diem zest, wisdom, and courage that come from trusting in God, who is infinite Love.
Seeing identity from a spiritual altitude brings it into focus. It's enabling, empowering, freeing. Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy urged people to "rise above the testimony of the material senses, above the mortal to the immortal idea of God. These clearer, higher views inspire the Godlike man to reach the absolute centre and circumference of his being" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 262). Wow!
Yes, right here in the nitty-gritty of daily life there's an invisible divine power to lean on and spring from, a holy influence to turn to for harmony and help. Life's grand design is organized and supervised by a 100 percent good and coherent divine Principle/ Soul/Mind who thought of us, maintains us, and loves us. Get consciousness in tune with this, and health, checkbook, job, and companionship will follow suit.
Marcel Proust said, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes." Everyone has "new eyes" - to see health-giving, higher views of life's deep, spiritual structure.