Today’s column considers how a spiritual view of our abilities and their divine source can free us from fears that would hinder success in the classroom and beyond.

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In my town, the lawns and pathways of a local school campus have been greening up over the past few weeks. Sand and grit have been swept aside by maintenance crews to make way for loads of fresh mulch and crates of pansies. For students, blankets spread out in the sun become a happy new study zone.

But “happy” may not always be the right word to describe students at this time of the year. Workloads pile up and deadlines loom for papers and presentations. When I was a teacher, I remember that even for the faculty members the semester seemed to roar to an end like a dragster crossing the finish line!

The returning beauty and calm of spring, however, offers a useful reminder that this time of year need not be defined by a frazzled and frantic sense of things. For students and faculty immersed in the seemingly ominous demands of the hour, it is possible to maintain a sense of calm dominion, balance, and joy. I learned myself, many years ago, that taking time each day – even for a few moments – to be patiently still and open my thought to the presence of God, divine Love, always helped dispel the mists of fear and burden that would try to hinder my best efforts.

For me, this wasn’t about simply stifling bad thoughts or sweeping fears under the rug. It was about learning to recognize a different source of thought. I had learned through my study of Christian Science that another word for God is Mind and that there is but one Mind governing all of us, God’s spiritual offspring. Each of us has inherent ability within us to reflect this calm, harmonious, all-knowing Mind. In fact, the divine Mind is our all-wise creator who has created us for the very purpose of reflecting God’s glory in qualities such as clarity, intelligence, focus, wisdom, peace, and persistence.

The key is that we have to both identify with our true, spiritual nature and honestly aim to live it each day. As we do, we’ll exhibit a measure of that calm dominion and grace that are characteristics of our God-bestowed nature.

I recall affirming these ideas at one point during exam week of my senior year in college. As I did so, the idea of my God-given dominion became so vivid to me that all fear about the work to be done suddenly left me. I was filled with joy that God, Love, was with me, providing the wisdom and ability to move forward with all my assignments and responsibilities. And it proved to be the case, so much so that others commented on my change of attitude, and I completed the semester with good grades.

That certainly was a precious learning experience beyond academics. I gained a sense of the importance of consistently identifying myself as God sees me – as His spiritual, whole, wise, and intelligent creation – and thereby disassociating myself, so to speak, with the negative beliefs or fears that would make it seem that God, the divine Mind, is either absent or distant.

I have always loved a particular reference in the Bible relating to the true purpose of everyone. Speaking of God, it states: “Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it” (Psalms 90:16, 17). With a greater spiritual understanding of our God-given dominion at exam time (or any time), not only will we cross “finish lines” with more joy and poise, but these qualities will shine out and uplift others – roommates, friends, and even professors. We can trust that “the beauty of the Lord our God” rests upon us all. Always.

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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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