Springtime renewal today

A Christian Science perspective.

It’s sparrow time again! Every spring the birdhouse in the tree outside our picture window is home for a new sparrow couple. The hole where the birds enter is just the right size to accommodate the open mouths of two or three squawking baby birds who will clamor for food there.

The birdhouse is sheltered from the wind and heavy wet snows, which will inevitably come before spring finally prevails over winter and eventually yields to summer. Before the eggs are laid, the sparrows do a little housekeeping by removing bits of twigs and other materials from last year, and adding fresh components to the nest. Watching them revive the birdhouse reminds me that we can experience moments of renewal today.

This is a natural time of year where I live in Colorado to think about renewal; it’s all around us. The perennial plants will soon shake off their snowy sleep and start to bloom. Daffodils and little purple hyacinths will pop up from the cold earth and we’ll again smell the lilacs on windy days.

It’s possible for each of us to find renewal in various aspects of our own lives. The downward pull of depression or illness or lack can be daunting. But we’re not alone in seeking and finding freedom from these in renewal. We cannot be separated from the love, guidance, and care of our Maker – divine Love, God.

Some years ago, my husband was laid off from a job he’d had for many years. It seemed like the end of a prosperous and happy era in our home. Our children had left the nest, the family dog had died, and now this. It seemed like everything that was familiar and secure was gone. But like with the sparrows in the spring, the promise of new things ahead was present and vibrant. There were moments of renewal each day. I could feel the power of divine Love in our house. There was more time to appreciate each other’s company by taking walks together or catching a movie matinee. Volunteer work, when a job didn’t come quickly, helped my husband and me appreciate the value he still had in the community. After some time, he was able to find another job, and we were left with a great feeling of freshness – a true renewal.

I love to consider this passage by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, in thinking about how renewal comes about: “It is the purpose of divine Love to resurrect the understanding, and the kingdom of God, the reign of harmony already within us” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 154). Like the bulbs that lay dormant in the ground all winter, Love causes royal thoughts – views of the kingdom of heaven – to surface and transform our lives. So renewal isn’t about looking for something new; it’s actually discovering the good already at hand. And this is a continuous promise.

Isaiah described the transforming effect of the royal idea when he said, “Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed” (Isaiah 40:3-5, New King James Version).

Divine Love fills in the valleys of sadness, knocks down the mountains of fear and discouragement, straightens out the chaos and confusion, and smooths even the bumpiest of relationships. “Love is the royal way,” says a hymn (Margaret Morrison, “Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 179).

Love was powerful enough to free Christ Jesus from the cruel and painful effects of hatred and death. And it was tender enough to free me from what felt like the death of happiness and purpose in our household. And it is powerful enough to free you from whatever would hold you down and insist that the end of any good thing is inevitable. The time for renewal is now.

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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.”

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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