One of the memories of this past summer was tubing with my brother on the San Marcos River in Texas. Sprawled on inner tubes, floating lazily down this gentle current, we forgot the heat of the day as we loved the quiet, the committed time together, and the gentle bumps from our fellow travelers.
“It feels just like heaven on earth,” I said to the stranger whose tube had brushed against mine. His agreement had a sigh of contentment in it. There was no annoyance between us, just a shared joy.
What a contrast to the riot of the news and election cycles, and the demands of everyday life. How can we experience a deeper, more permanent calm that can stand up in other settings, outside of vacation?
Christ Jesus’ words give us a clue. He said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
“Repent” most frequently means turning away from sinful thoughts and actions. We more easily see and experience the kingdom of God or heaven when we’re not striving to assert ourselves and indulge things that are contrary to God’s divinely natural order of harmony.
But “repent” also means something even more profound: turning away from a material sense of life to understand its true, spiritual nature. You know how easy it is to think of our days in terms of the number of hours we have to accomplish a certain number of tasks, sometimes in lots of different places? If we live under those pressures of finite time and space, being focused on our workload, it can feel harder to sense the underlying rhythm of consistent harmony implied by the kingdom of heaven being at hand.
The founder of this publication and discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, gave insight to Jesus’ words when she defined the kingdom of heaven as “the reign of harmony in divine Science; the realm of unerring, eternal, and omnipotent Mind; the atmosphere of Spirit, where Soul is supreme” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 590). The definition is a foundational truth in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health.
This explanation invites us to notice God’s harmony in every hour of our day – not through a material sense of things, but through “the atmosphere of Spirit” in which we see ourselves and the people around us in a spiritual light. It is heaven indeed to understand that God created us spiritually and that we express our spiritual identity in the tasks at hand. As we open to this idea, our prayers often lead to answers, such as a scheduling conflict getting resolved in a way that is better than the original plan. We may also experience the kingdom when we yield to a new idea from God that moves us forward in a project that has been stuck.
These resolutions show us that the impetus behind our good work is God’s expression of His own being in us, and this can take the lead in our thought. The pure motive to help humanity, the desire to be useful to others, the creativity and intelligence we express as we employ our talents – all originate in God.
When Moses felt overwhelmed by God’s request that he lead the enslaved children of Israel out of Egypt, God spoke this proclamation to Moses: “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14). God is the source of our individuality and life purpose and a constant source of inspiration and guidance. Through patient, persistent listening to God, Moses was able to accomplish his assignment.
Starting with God in this way gives us more assurance and a basis for peace even in the midst of daily demands. With a greater awareness of the spiritual substance of life, we find that God’s heavenly kingdom is indeed at hand. The more we find ourselves acknowledging “God with us” (Matthew 1:23) and see the spiritual goodness that comes from God, the more we experience the kingdom in our lives, expressed in harmony and healing.
As we honor God as the source of all good, in every good activity, every hour of the day, we feel the abiding peace of a more spiritual sense of life.