One warm Saturday evening, with the sun dropping low toward the horizon, a young girl named Christine is walking with her grandfather across a soft wide beach. They're deep in conversation, interrupted only by the crashing of the surf and Christine's cartwheels across the firm sand at their feet.
They've started talking about the richness and beauty of every part of God's creation, and feeling grateful that there's so much of it to be found and enjoyed right there on the beach.
They're having more fun together than they've ever had before because they're realizing that they can't tell what might be waiting for them as they come around each clump of rocks or find another tidal pool. There's often a happy surprise for people who take the time to stop, look carefully, and think deeply about what they come across.
Christine reaches into her beach bag and sifts some shells through her fingers. They look closely at them. The shells are all different. Yet each one is beautiful in its own way. And they have such lovely names. Cowrie. Moon shell. Sunrise shell.
"You know, people are a bit like these shells," Grandpa says. "No two people are ever quite the same. They have been created by the same Father-Mother, who loves and cares for each of them. But each one brings something distinct, something fresh, to the world we share. As the Bible explains, God has given us the most wonderful gifts. We've just got to open our eyes and our minds to see these gifts and value them. We could say God's gifts - which are all good - are expressed in as many different ways as there are grains of sand on this beach. And they can never be lost."
He points out that Mary Baker Eddy, who started this newspaper, confirmed these truths when she wrote, "The divine Mind maintains all identities, from a blade of grass to a star, as distinct and eternal" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," page 70).
The beach walkers talk a bit about the infinite intelligence of this Mind, which is God. Christine has learned the word infinite in math class. It means without limits or bounds. So they agree that no problem could be too difficult for this infinite Mind. And they talk about the word eternal, which dictionaries define as being without beginning or end: "Existing through all time. Forever the same. Always true or valid."
Grandpa suggests Christine might check out those Bible verses about God's infinite, eternal gifts with her teacher in Sunday School the next day.
"Why wait? I can check them in my own Bible tonight," she says.
"Even better," he says. He explains that the verses are in the Apostle Paul's first letter to the Corinthians where he wrote about gifts of the Spirit - gifts that come from God (see I Cor. 12:4-11).
Grandpa says these gifts are all as distinctly beautiful and rich in character as the shells they've collected. Or the sea-splashed rocks in front of them. Or the sunset they're going to see in a few minutes.
"God expresses His government and power in all sorts of ways, all the time," he continues. "God gives each person something to do that will show who He is. He gives us a special way of doing things for others - and helps us do them. That's one of God's purposes for us. And as we play our part, the world fills up with signs of God's tender care, wisdom, healing power, freedom, peace."
"As the waters cover the sea," says Christine, looking out across the ocean. "We sing a hymn about that in Sunday School."
They join hands and walk slowly across the gleaming sand until they blend with the loveliest sunset you could imagine.
Christine gasps excitedly. "Just look. God has given us another gift!"
"Do you realize there's never been a sunset just like this one?" Grandpa says. "And tomorrow's sunset will be different again, and just as beautiful."
"Unless it rains," teases Christine, as she darts away from her grandfather and throws herself into another cartwheel.
"Even that can be beautiful," he calls, as he races after her.
... the earth shall be filled with the glory of God
As the waters cover the sea.
Christian Science Hymnal