There's more to a marathon than meets the eye. Long-distance runners know this. And so should anyone who is pursuing a worthy goal and wants to go the distance to accomplish it.
Marathons – preparing for them and running in them – provide lessons that apply across the spectrum of life. With Boston's footrace happening April 16, it's a good time to expand on two of those lessons.
People watch races from several vantage points. There's the eye on the scene from the sidelines. TV cameras mounted on vehicles just ahead of the runners deliver another point of view. Then there's the big picture from helicopters overhead. From that higher elevation, onlookers can see the whole course.
Similarly, setting our sights beyond jobs, hobbies, and routines, shows life from a less restrictive viewpoint. That marathoner of Christian missionary work, St. Paul, told the Corinthians, "Set your affection on things above." The truly "big picture" surely embraces the spiritual.
A good place to start is to think outside the framework of life as locked up in physicality, and seek to understand the ways in which we relate to the infinite Life that is spiritual and wholly good. Spirit, God – not matter or the brain – is the source of this higher idea of life that belongs to everyone.
Christian Science explains how to know ourselves as this image and likeness and what happens to that restrictive, material sense of life when we do. Identifying ourselves with this infinite idea of life in God expands our capacities and comprehension, gives a more compassionate outlook, and brings healing to the human mind and body.
As we become aware of the overarching fact that we're not a composite of physical and chemical processes, the mistake of believing we're at the mercy of matter becomes increasingly apparent. Spirit is giving life and harmony and health to everyone, as the record of Christian Science healing has validated again and again.
This scientific view of life is profound – and very real. It's the spiritual reality Mary Baker Eddy hoped people would strive to grasp, and that's here for everyone to benefit from. Her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" compels readers to change their ordinary way of looking at life: "We must look deep into realism instead of accepting only the outward sense of things" (p. 129).
Anyone who wants to cross a finish line needs to advance. Even if you're far behind the pack, it's important to focus on the destination and move toward it, even if only one small step at a time.
The lesson for anyone committed to having a more spiritual consciousness and to living a more spiritual life is to value the choices one makes. Even small choices make an important difference. They lead in one direction or the other – we either choose to make more room in our lives for the things of the material world or we choose to grow spiritually.
Deep satisfaction accompanies the choice to grow spiritually – a conviction that it's the right choice. Each time we decide to expand our love and understanding of God, to express that love by helping someone in need, to be more compassionate or forgiving, to resist evil and take a stand for good – doing this because it's our nature as God's likeness to do good – we express more of our real spiritual nature.
We see that what's at the core of life has nothing to do with matter but everything to do with Spirit, and that to take our lives in this direction, even with small forward steps, is the worthiest of goals.
Have a long way to go? Don't we all. But take heart. Earnestness and small steps are a winning combination for the spiritual marathoner. "If honest," Mrs. Eddy wrote, "he will be in earnest from the start, and gain a little each day in the right direction, till at last he finishes his course with joy" (p. 21).
Adapted from an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.