A horizon is simply the limit of one’s view, not a fixed point, not a beginning or an end. But even if we know that, it’s still easy to believe that what we see is all that there is.
This is especially true as Jan. 1 approaches. Newspapers and TV programs are filled with reviews of the past and projections for the future. All too often these are negative, and they fuel fear. People take stock of their own situation as the year turns, and in these days of the credit crunch, the financial outlook can be very uncertain. Sometimes there are mistakes in the past that can’t be put right or circumstances ahead that look like a dead end. This may make the new year a precarious time for many. How is it possible to feel hope in the middle of despair? If someone is walking a tightrope, is there a net underneath? Is there anyone there to help, or are we alone?
This is when prayer can show what’s beyond the horizon. Just as from a plane you see the first light of day sooner than you see it from the ground, prayer also changes one’s viewpoint. Even when you seem to be standing on the brink, prayer can open thought to a source of good that never fails.
Some friends of mine who are artists and who have five children were hit hard by the recession. People loved their work, but no one was buying. Their savings ran out, and one weekend they had 8 pence with which to feed the family. The mother was in tears. But she was used to praying, and friends comforted her with assurances of God’s love and care. At that moment she received a text message from her son saying that someone had visited their showroom and made a cash purchase. Dinner would be on the table! They realized that over the years, even when things appeared hopeless, their needs had always been met. Instead of fear, gratitude became the family’s theme song.
The founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, knew just how hard these no-hope times can be. Speaking of her own darkest hour, she wrote: "All things earthly must ultimately yield to the irony of fate, or else be merged into the one infinite Love.... The world was dark.... The senses could not prophesy sunrise or starlight" ("Retrospection and Introspection," p. 23). However, this was the very moment when the door of her thought opened to a more spiritual sense of life, to the hope and comfort that are always at hand. She was on a new path, healed and renewed.
One of the blessings of prayer is that it turns you outward – first to God, and then to the needs of others. Among the readers of the Monitor, many pray for the situations they read about in our world. This includes people they haven’t met but whose lives have touched them through the writing and reporting. No one need feel alone when they are included in this family of prayer. This can be a lifeline during a struggle with hopelessness. A touch of love can help bring someone safely into the new year, and also into a more hopeful sense of life.
Surveying today’s headlines, one sees many reasons for hope and encouragement. The ability of nations and individuals to work together may be severely tested, but the desire to progress is deep in the human heart. These efforts deserve our recognition and support as we pray for the health and well-being of our world. A psalm in the Bible says, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance" (42:5).
Exactly a century ago, Mary Baker Eddy welcomed the new year with the hope and confidence born of her conviction of God’s love, as recorded in "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," p. 354:
"O blessings infinite!
O glad New Year!
Sweet sign and substance
Of God’s presence here."