Living in 'fast forward'?

A Christian Science perspective: Living and planning each day with an awareness of God's 'gentle presence' dissolves stress and transforms all the bits and pieces of our daily lives.

When I was a little girl, our home was always filled with music, including classical, jazz, and swing. I loved watching my parents drop all their workaday cares to dance across the kitchen floor to the sound of Glenn Miller’s classic “A String of Pearls,” composed by Jerry Gray. There was just something “perfect” about that recording, with a title that had to do with every note being in place and shining like a pearl in a necklace.

When I remember that tune, I can’t help thinking of a well-known Bible passage from Matthew 13 in which Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to a merchant “seeking goodly pearls.” And, as the story goes, “when he had found one pearl of great price, [he] went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (verses 45, 46).

Finding that one pearl is something I’ve thought about a lot. I’ve yearned for a way to distill all the words and wisdom I’ve been exposed to into something as flawless as that pearl. For me, one of the recurring gems of wisdom is the idea of being present “in the moment” – accepting that one of life’s paradoxes is the acceptance that our future prospects so often relate to our ability to pay attention to the present, even though that can be daunting.

With my busy schedule as a wife, mother, and musician, it often seems as though my mind is much too busy living in “fast forward” even to catch a glimpse of the present. I so easily forget the Apostle Paul’s insistence that “now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2).

For example, I vividly recall a morning when I’d burned the family breakfast, my son’s shoes were nowhere to be found, and I had a song to finish writing and a truck full of plants to unload – in the rain! Salvation couldn’t have seemed more unlikely, until I realized I hadn’t spared a single moment for prayer.

I reorganized myself. I thought of the opening lines of a poem written by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science. She wrote, “O gentle presence, peace and joy and power;/ O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour” (“Poems,” p. 4). I realized that living and planning each day with a firm awareness of that “gentle presence” transforms all the bits and pieces of our daily lives.

I took a deep breath, felt the rain on my face, and noticed how much greener everything looked in the misty air. I was filled with gratitude for that moment and released the need to judge it as anything less than perfect. As I unloaded those plants, I felt quietly content with things as they were, a joy in all the little details, and a fresh sense that there was plenty of time to accomplish all that needed to be done.

I recognized that effortless moment-by-moment communion with God’s “gentle presence” allows us to abandon will-based responsibility and enjoy every moment to the fullest, enriched by priceless pearls of insight and contentment. It was hard not to berate myself for not realizing those truths earlier that morning.

But, most important, I had caught sight of that pearl, learned to switch away from “fast forward,” and made room for healing prayer – and I still had time to take a spin across the kitchen floor with my husband to Glenn Miller’s “A String of Pearls”!

From the Christian Science Sentinel.

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Dear Reader,

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.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

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.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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