'How many years do you have?'

A Christian Science perspective on daily life

For several years, my mother, my two sons, and I lived in Spanish-speaking countries, where "How old are you?" is said, "How many years do you have?" And my mother was very pleased when she learned to say, "Tengo muchos años, pero yo no tengo edad!" ("I have many years, but no age!"). Her approach to life was joyful, ageless – an anthem of praise to God.

She had found Christian Science in her search for how to help my brother and me understand God. And she not only discovered what to teach her children about their loving Father-Mother God, but also how to see herself more clearly as God's image. It was her certainty that she was indeed God's image, spiritual and perfect, that ruled out even a smattering of what the world considers age.

So just what was this age that my mother didn't have? Attitudes like fretting, brooding, or criticizing. Or making a big problem out of something that wasn't a problem at all if you went about it right.

Like the time the boys and I were living with her out in the country. They were 12 and 13 years old, and it was the first day for each of them to ride an old mare we had just bought. But the mare refused to take the bit. After watching the boys struggle with her for 10 minutes, my mother marched across the field, took a firm grip on the bit, and placed it in the mare's mouth, saying, "I was a mare before she was!"

Over the years, this little episode stood out as a metaphor in the boys' no-nonsense concept of their grandmother. "Gram knows how to get things done!"

She was truly an individual of spiritual vigor, enhanced by grace and lovingkindness. This Bible passage is reminiscent of her: "Thine age shall be clearer than the noonday; thou shalt shine forth, thou shall be as the morning" (Job 11:17).

I think of my mother often these days, and ask myself: "How many years do you have? How are you living this chapter of your own life adventure?"

I'm striving to live in accord with what I've learned about passing years.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Time is a mortal thought, the divisor of which is the solar year. Eternity is God's measurement of Soul-filled years" (pp. 598-599).

So I've taken my place in eternity, so to speak, with quite a few Soul-filled years.

But, like my mother, no age. No self-imposed limitations concerning what I can't do anymore. I try not to accept limiting strictures but instead reverse them with the certainty that I can do whatever I need to do, with joy and dominion.

I'm humbly grateful for the lessons learned over the years and for the conviction that I can trust those lessons, many of them very hard-earned. I'm secure in the knowledge that because I am the child of God, created and maintained in His image, I have every reason to expect the blessings of His love, the rewards of lessons learned, in every aspect of my life.

The theme of this lovely experience is stated perfectly in Mrs. Eddy's book, "Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896": "What is the anthem of human life?...

"Human hope and faith should join in nature's grand harmony, and ... make music in the heart.... St. Paul wrote, 'Rejoice in the Lord always.' And why not, since man's possibilities are infinite, bliss is eternal, and the consciousness thereof is here and now?" (p. 330). For me, this says it all.

So how many years do I have – do you have? When they're Soul-filled years, rich in the lessons that have filled them, it doesn't matter how many. We can only rejoice in them, singing our anthem of gratitude every day.

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