Germany's Freiburg community, described in this week's cover story, is one of those concepts that began as someone's vision. Along with Masdar City in the United Arab Emirates, and a host of other planned self-sufficient communities, cities, and eco-villages sprouting up around the world, it indicates the growing awareness of what's possible in energy and community potential.
Envision building a home that is completely self-sufficient, relying on the sun for all its energy, heating, and cooling needs. Zero carbon footprint. Now more than just visionary, the German Passivhus technology is creating such houses. Our family is considering building one in Maine, where we currently live in an off-the-grid solar-and wind-powered home. All of our electricity is generated by the sun and wind; for our heat we use wood or natural gas as a backup. Wanting to take the next step toward a smaller carbon footprint, we are exploring the German Passivhus.
How do we move from a vision to the possible to the practical? The starting point may need to be removing the mental barriers, which limit the possible. Olympians don't soar beyond limits without first conceiving of doing so. The best remover of limits is the exercise of spiritual "muscles," spiritual qualities that rely on the infinite rather than the finite to fuel progress. Unleashed, those qualities – such as acumen, intelligence, creativity, innovation, insight, wisdom, gratitude, joy, peace, love – bring out inexhaustible energy, unrestricted ideas, and unflagging capacity to conceive and develop progressive activity. Not depending on limited resources, but relying unfailingly on the divine, these spiritual qualities are infinitely sustainable.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, writes in the opening statement to her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings" (p. vii). What a promise! And elsewhere in that book, she reflects: "Beholding the infinite tasks of truth, we pause, – wait on God. Then we push onward, until boundless thought walks enraptured, and conception unconfined is winged to reach the divine glory" (p. 323).
Drawing on the supremely infinite is eminently practical in the here and now. We begin to approximate the unconstrained possibilities in our lives, discoveries, and inventions. We bring to our world a touch of the Divine, which can transform our current take on our world as finite – troubled with stretched resources, stretching human relations to their limits – to a universe of spiritual ideas transcending and transforming our view of life and possibilities.
Moses in the wilderness called on God, probably without even envisioning that the children of Israel would be fed with manna from the sky and water emerging from dry rocks. We, too, can reach deep into the wells of the "sustaining infinite" and discover ever-emerging inspiration, supplying the ideas, strength, and spiritual stamina to see our way to progress and to the fruition of more than just envisioning a more limitless, compassionate world.