Wednesday in North Carolina about 35,000 people are expected to witness a reenactment of the first flight of the Wright Flyer, which took place just 100 years ago.
Wilbur and Orville Wright, two bicyclemakers from Dayton, Ohio, weren't the first to attempt to solve the problem of controlled powered heavier-than-air flight, nor did they perfect every aspect of it. But on December 17, 1903, with the help of a handful of men from the nearby lifesaving station, they literally took flight. Modest as their accomplishment seems now, from that moment on the world was a different place.
While it would take decades to harness aviation in a practical way, their persistence opened the door to knowledge that enabled people to overcome time and distance. But underneath their accomplishment was something much more profound. In essence, it was the proof that humanity is able to drop the mental and physical weights that would bind people to earth, is able to lift their hearts and thoughts above the material.
A contemporary of the Wright brothers, author Mary Baker Eddy, was also interested in aviation, perhaps because she associated it with aspiration. Aspiring to go higher and higher in one's spiritual understanding and human progress was of utmost importance to her. Mrs. Eddy's book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" helped people do just that. Her unflagging desire to help people in this way enabled her to sacrifice and hold her course, even under severe difficulties. And her desires were fulfilled; her book continues to restore and heal human lives today.
What sustained her? Love. Love for God and for a humanity that believed suffering was inevitable, possibly even God's will; that sickness was inescapable; that aspiration could fail.
Mary Baker Eddy was able to challenge all those feelings because she had benefited from God's healing power. She had aspired to do good for the world and had succeeded. And so her book speaks with the authority of one who has walked through the fire and come out strengthened and purified.
From her study of the Bible, she saw that when Jesus said, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30), he wasn't commenting about a relationship with God that was meant for just him alone. Through his teachings and his healing work, Jesus showed that each individual is important, indeed essential, to God. Following Jesus' teachings to their logical outcome, Mrs. Eddy was able to prove that Jesus' lifework helps people today also. What she discovered has made the world a different - and better - place for everyone.
This means that if you are aspiring to do some good work or to make personal progress, what Mrs. Eddy discovered can help you fulfill your own goals and aspirations. She wrote: "Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way. Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action" (Science and Health, page 454).
To apply this concept, you can trust divine Love to inspire you with the right steps to take to illuminate your way. Your contribution is to truly love each step, to love all with whom you have contact, and to let divine Love help you refine and purify your desire so that it reaches its highest level of goodness. As you do this, your spiritual progress will also make the world a better place.
Is such aspiration rewarded? Looking at my own life, I can say that it is, especially as one strives to have those right motives that give "pinions to thought." My own spiritual journey has led me from a rudimentary education in a one-room schoolhouse to be the first person in my family to graduate from a four-year college and later to obtain a PhD. Without God's help, none of that would have been possible, and through Christian Science new aspects of aspiration have opened up in my life. And I have shared my experiences of breaking down barriers as a way to open doors for other people.
Wednesday's gathering at the memorial to the Wright brothers symbolizes not just their discovery, important as it was. It points to the power of an open door and of hearts that aspire to reach beyond the finite to the infinite. That's something that all of us can do.