Back to school with Spirit

A Christian Science perspective: 'Daily prayer for my studies was a lifesaver.'

As summer vacations wind down, schools are preparing to open their doors for a new season of learning and activity. High-quality education is crucial to the growth and development of individuals and society.

Here’s a thought-provoking perspective on education from John Ruskin, a leading social thinker, philanthropist, art critic, and author: “The entire object of true education, is to make people not merely do the right thing, but to enjoy right things; not merely industrious, but to love industry; not merely learned, but to love knowledge.”

Will the new academic year live up to this ideal for all students, families, and schools?

I find it encouraging to remember that there’s a higher source of wisdom that is a wellspring of inspiration and ideas. This infinite source is the divine Mind, God, and is available to all. I’ve learned a lot about the nature and activity of divine Mind by studying the Bible, a book that explains where true wisdom comes from and how we can all gain access to it. This biblical passage sums it up beautifully: “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6, New King James Version).

The constant accessibility of good ideas is gratefully acknowledged in this passage from the Psalms: “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You” (139:17, 18, NKJV).

The ever-active divine Mind is continuously giving each person constructive ideas that lead to individual and collective progress. Students will naturally learn more effectively and express originality in their assignments as they are understood to be the very reflections of divine Mind.

When I was in university, the pressure of exams and multiple assignments sometimes felt overwhelming. Yet I found that daily prayer for my studies was a lifesaver. One time I had to study a 300-page book for an exam, and I didn’t consider myself to have a great memory. As I lifted my thought above the stress, I silently affirmed my oneness with the all-knowing divine Mind, acknowledging that I’d have access to all the ideas I needed to write the exam and eventually help others with what I was learning.

As I prayed this way, it came to me that the 300-page book actually contained 10 main ideas. Those 10 ideas were easy to remember, and I wrote the exam with success. Motivated by Jesus’ teaching to “love your neighbor as yourself” (see Matthew 19:19 NKJV), I learned that things went best when I embraced all students and professors in my prayers.

Since, as the Bible states in the first chapter of Genesis, all of us are created in the image and likeness of God, it can be helpful to think about the many divine qualities that all students naturally reflect, such as attentiveness, intelligence, responsibility, and cooperation. Teachers and administrators can be appreciated as naturally expressing spiritual qualities such as creativity, vision, altruism, and leadership.

Students will benefit most if their educational experience fosters the development of well-rounded individuals capable of having supportive relationships and making a contribution to their community. Mary Baker Eddy, who wrote extensively about fostering optimal human development, wrote, “God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis. Mind manifests all that exists in the infinitude of Truth” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 258).

Knowing that each person is the complete expression of God, good, will help address any concerns about students being distracted from their studies by negative influences. Mrs. Eddy logically reasoned that since each individual is a reflection of Spirit, God, each one is naturally attracted to the things of Spirit. She wrote: “There is but one real attraction, that of Spirit. The pointing of the needle to the pole symbolizes this all-embracing power or the attraction of God, divine Mind” (Science and Health, p. 102).

It’s a joy to know that the upcoming year carries abundant promise as students go back to school with Spirit.

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About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

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The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

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