It's been said that people spend more time planning their vacation than their lives. If that's true, it probably has a lot to do with wanting to make the most of every hour of time off from a rushed and tightly structured work environment.
If you're planning a summer to-do list, or already fulfilling one, think about this: In addition to those well-deserved barbecues or trips to the beach, why not make it a priority to remove any troublesome debris? Not just the unwanted stuff in the garage or the closet, but of the human mind. Unhappy memories, built-up resentment, bitterness, fear, regrets - the kind of mental clutter that can pile up over time.
Sounds good, but is such a project possible? How do you sweep away anger that has built up over the years because of someone who hurt you deeply? How do you choose which memories to keep and which to forget? How do you end the regret from having made a huge mistake? Those unfortunate feelings and experiences are a permanent part of our lives, aren't they?
That depends. It depends on when and where your life begins.
For most people that would mean their birthday, of course. What they've experienced from then until now is what their life adds up to so far, including any of that messy debris.
But for a spiritual and scientific thinker - a metaphysician - the starting point is quite different. He or she is growing accustomed to looking beyond physical markers to a higher idea of life - to the wisdom, creativity, strength, grace, love, truth, and beauty that come from the unblemished Life that is divine.
That is where to begin this kind of project. The purely spiritual idea of Life, our Life, is fresh, lively, flawless, and a powerful moving force. It is the image of God, and as such it is a model for changing the unwelcome concept we have of ourselves into something new.
The transformative effect on us from this spiritual idea can be profound, when we allow it to permeate everyday life. If we need to forgive a wrong, we will find it is in our nature as God's image and likeness to have the compassion and mercy to do so. If we're tempted to keep looking to the past - either with dread or with longing - we discover we have the capacity to resist the temptation always to look back, and instead to devote our full energies to the demands of today. If we're on the wrong path, this idea points us in the right direction and provides the conviction we need to correct our course.
In short, the divine idea of Life brings renewal.
The groundwork for living more and more of a debris-free life is formed as we make this idea our own. As the founder of this newspaper discovered, there really is no other way to put off thoroughly what the Bible calls the "old man" - that problematic material life we have accepted as true, but that isn't.
Here's how Mary Baker Eddy saw it: "Mortal man can never rise above the temporal débris of error, belief in sin, sickness, and death, until he learns that God is the only Life" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures").
This real idea of Life is ours now, and can be experienced now. That's thrilling.
And maybe what that says to us is that rather than waiting for even one more day to go by with that same old debris lingering in the back of our lives, we should bring this renewal project to the top of our to-do list. So what if it means we adjust our plans somewhat? This can be the summer we are made new!
Behold, I will do a new thing;
now it shall spring forth;
shall ye not know it?
I will even make a way
in the wilderness,
and rivers in the desert.