Happy birthday!

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

When you're 5 or 6 years old, "Happy birthday!" might mean a fun time of cake and ice cream, candles, and presents, and being surrounded by other happy kids. But for the baby boomer 60 years later, it might mean forced retirement, the prospect of less income, and all kinds of medical prognoses for declining faculties. So it's not a bad idea to step back and say, "Wait a minute, am I really defined by a number? Does it determine my ability to think, to decide, to travel?"

Of course it can't. And it's right to object to any pigeonholing and stereotyping based on how many times you've circled the sun on planet Earth! Rejecting the claims of age, though, has to be done from a solid basis, not just by wishful thinking.

A vital starting point is to acknowledge our unbreakable and ageless relationship with God. Putting our lives on this spiritual basis makes all the difference. It reminds us that divine Spirit's creation is spiritual, not material. So we're not locked into aging bodies that are inevitably going to decline and decay. We are the ideas of Spirit, designed to express spiritual qualities only, and to experience endless proofs of God's love for us. The Bible's accounts of spiritual visionaries who were so convinced of their closeness to God that their human lives were both lengthened and strengthened offer proof of this point.

One example is Moses, who the Bible tells us heard God speak to him "face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend" (Ex. 33:11). With this consciousness of his intimate relationship with God, Moses led an extraordinary and strenuous life, passing on at an advanced age. The Bible expresses it this way: "Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated" (Deut. 34:7).

The face-to-face relationship with God is not just for a privileged few. God, the universal Father-Mother of all, has a tender relationship with creation, and we are all His-Her beloved children. God sees us as His immortal spiritual ideas, not little material bodies that are forever defined by their appearance in the world on a specific date. Although this relationship is already established, we need to wake up from the dream of birth in matter in order to approach this intimate relationship with our hearts and minds. That's done through a sincere prayer that consistently defines God as our infinite and forever-near source.

Another biblical verse helps here. The Gospel of John records Jesus as saying, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (6:63).

Spirit, God, quickens. God is the underlying force, our source of energy, that which empowers us. We can't be separate from our source any more than an image in the mirror can be separate from its original. Affirming in prayer that we always have our divine quickening leads to an increased sense of well-being, health, stamina – and to resistance to theories about aging.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote in her major work, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Never record ages. Chronological data are no part of the vast forever. Time-tables of birth and death are so many conspiracies against manhood and womanhood.… Man, governed by immortal Mind, is always beautiful and grand. Each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness" (p. 246).

The key is seeing ourselves as not material in the first place, but as ideas of divine Mind, quickened by divine Spirit, motivated by divine Love. All these Scriptural names for God help us understand that our Father-Mother is not remote or uncaring, but with us every step of the way. We, too, have a right to speak to God as our ever-present friend, and in this spiritual intimacy we are always youthful, spontaneous, and joyful.

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