Back to school with hope

A Christian Science perspective: Embracing the magnificence of what God has made His children to be.

Advertisements for back-to-school supplies, ranging from crayons for grade-schoolers to dorm room accessories for college students, are appearing in newspapers and store windows. Where I live it’s a little early for that Colorado autumn chill in the air, but it won’t be long before students will be back at their desks, using their newly acquired school supplies.

The beginning of a new academic year turns my thought to Christ Jesus’ words in the Bible, “[T]hey shall be all taught of God” (John 6:45). We are all taught of God because God is the one divine Mind, the only true Mind of man. Therefore, all true wisdom and understanding have their source in God and are imparted to His children. Since we are all His likeness or expression, this assurance from Jesus isn’t exclusive. It includes all of us. And it is the basis of all the intelligence we need to express, whether in school, the workplace, or in family matters.

Referring to God as Mind, in her primary work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy states, “God is intelligence,” and asks, “Can we inform the infinite Mind of anything He does not already comprehend?” (p. 2). Is it possible to fathom a more qualified teacher than all-knowing Mind, the source of all intelligence – divine intelligence itself?

Certainly one of the lessons to learn from infinite and all-seeing Mind is to throw away a limited, material point of view and take up the spiritual understanding of our true, unlimited capacities. With so much emphasis lately on standardized testing, and competition among students of many nations for the best jobs in the world economy today, it’s important to understand God’s infinite and inclusive perspective on all of His creation. This view enables us to see past material stereotypes – limitations based on background, upbringing, or economic status – and see the unlimited capacities that God has put in place for each of His loved children. Can you picture a more successful individual than one who has been equipped by his or her divine Parent, the source of inexhaustible intelligence and ability?

That individual is every one of us. God, our Father-Mother, has already supplied each of His children with intelligence. In fact, intelligence is a spiritual quality that is inherent in our identity. On page 588, in the chapter titled “Glossary” in Science and Health, intelligence is defined, in part, as substance. Considering that intelligence is infinite substance itself, intelligence is the substance of man – the very fiber of each one’s real being, including every man, woman, and child. As spiritual ideas perpetually known by God, who is supreme Mind, intelligence is a quality we all express.

Mind has created no two ideas the same. We are all unique, and all capable of great accomplishment, no matter how the circumstances around us would try to define and limit us. I saw proof of this years ago while helping in my daughter’s school. A boy in her class was quite a handful. He had a difficult home life, physical problems, and behavioral issues, which were seen as obstacles to his ability to grasp basic kindergarten lessons. While he was working on an art project one day, something of this boy’s spiritual qualities, his true substance – evidenced humanly in focus, determination, and love for symmetry and color – stood out to me. You could say that I caught a glimpse of God’s view of him, instead of a limited, material view.

In that moment, through the inspiration I was getting, God was teaching me a new lesson about the reality of His, Spirit’s, creation. Instead of a difficult little boy, all I could see was a complete, balanced, delightful, and successful child of God. I glimpsed the unlimited nature of everyone as God’s spiritual creation, fully equipped to be as exquisite as He made each one of them to be. Helping in the classroom became easier after that insight, and, in fact, it has been a valuable truth that I’ve applied to other experiences in the years since.

How can we best support students going back to school? My prayer includes an ever-expanding view of them as divine Mind’s offspring, already complete with all right ideas, and the ability and intelligence to express Mind’s spiritual capacities. This prayer also denies the possibility of any limitations and perceives nothing less than the magnificence of what God has created all of us to be.

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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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