It’s possible while looking ahead – anticipating fresh opportunities and yet-to-be discovered good – to do so without turning our backs on the important lessons and blessings that are part of what we’re leaving behind. Too often in the enthusiasm of a fresh start or opportunity – whether it’s a new job, marriage, home, or year – human nature tends to slam the door on the past. There’s a balance to strike, and grace to be expressed, as we go from chapter to chapter. The underlying spiritual fact is that good is ever present. Let me illustrate with a vignette.
During the time our family lived in Australia, we spent one New Year’s holiday in New Zealand, at a fishing lodge along the banks of the Tongariro River, known for great trout fishing. On New Year’s Eve, our then-12-year-old son hatched a plan and asked permission to carry it out. He hoped to hook a fish in the year just ending, and land it in the new year. As my husband and I went to bed, we could hear the victorious whoop wafting up from the riverbank. He did it! Though nearing the very end of the year, our son could still see adventure and promise in it, as well as a happy beginning to the year before him.
We could all use a dose of this attitude. The spiritual facts that support it are that God, the Giver, is perpetually bestowing good on His children. Not a moment in His presence is ever “written off.”
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Monitor, made this statement in her main work, the textbook of the Christian Science theology she discovered: “To begin rightly is to end rightly” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 262). And as a model of beginning rightly she set up the subjects for the sermons to be given in Christian Science churches, in perpetuity, in a particular theological order. Thus, the first topic every year is “God.” As an adherent, I find this provides an example far beyond how to begin each year. It instructs me to start with God in every setting and situation encountered daily and monthly – year in, year out.
If deprivation is gnawing at our thought, we’ll come to wiser decisions and more effective prayers for others if we begin with an understanding of God’s divine providence. If poor health is hovering in our lives, or in the lives of loved ones, beginning with God’s tender care and ministering love is a good place to find improved health and healing. Or, if unease about the stability of governments and their economies is threatening our peace, considering these issues in prayer that’s based on God as divine Principle, extending perpetual order and wisdom, is a sure way for each one of us to contribute to the overall assurance and calm.
A simple statement in the book of Jeremiah makes for good beginnings, as it captures an ongoing, unchanging fact: “O Lord,” it announces, “thou knowest” (15:15). Resting on this fact, we can take lessons along with us, and look forward to God’s continuous presence, guidance, and goodness.