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At home in the heart of Paris

Years of unsuccessfully searching for affordable housing closer to her job left today’s contributor discouraged. But considering a more spiritual view of home shifted her outlook completely, and soon she found a flat that met her needs beautifully.

For years I wanted to live inside the city of Paris. But after three years of casually searching for apartments, I wasn’t finding anything suitable. The price of the market for “inside Paris” was still way too high for what I could afford despite an increase in my income.

But I felt that this move would be a progressive step. Not only would it reduce my commutes to church and work, which sometimes involved sitting in hours of traffic, but it would help educate me about how I might help address important issues affecting the heart of the city.

One night I was watching a TV program about the housing crisis in the Paris area. According to the program, with a shortage of housing for the coming years and the rising price of real estate, middle-class people were being forced to move farther away in order to find an affordable place to live.

As a student of Christian Science, I had seen that prayer can bring to any individual creative insights and inspired ideas from God. The limiting idea that people were grouped into categories and could only live in certain places did not seem consistent with this. So I looked up references to the word “category” in a book I’d found invaluable in solving problems through an understanding of God: “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science. My study of its ideas on this subject led me to such a helpful statement: “The categories of metaphysics rest on one basis, the divine Mind. Metaphysics resolves things into thoughts, and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul” (p. 269).

Divine Soul is another name for Spirit, God, so I realized there was a solid, spiritual premise from which I could start my quest for home: thinking about the ideas I received from God. This spiritual starting point helped sweep away the doubts I had about finding housing.

I confidently returned to my search but soon found myself visiting flats that had no kitchen or parking. These visits made me feel exhausted and depressed, and I began to think back to the bleak news about housing I’d heard on TV.

But I was convinced that persistence in prayer would bring clarity. One night I casually mentioned my discouragement to a church friend. He shared an idea someone had once told him: “Your place is your individuality.”

That one simple idea meant a lot to me. It gave me a sense that the concept of place or home couldn’t be separated from me and that it was spiritual, since I understood from my study of Christian Science that the true individuality of each of us lies in our relation to Spirit, our divine creator. Instead of analyzing market trends and fretting about financial predictions, I realized, I could consider my spiritual individuality and just stay there. That is, I could find my sense of home right where I was – in my thought of God.

That night, in prayer, I began to resolve “things into thoughts” and exchange “the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul,” as that idea from Science and Health said. I began a list of qualities that express Soul, which I knew my true, spiritual individuality already included, such as God-given light, peace, tranquility.

Over the next three days I continued making my list, considering what various amenities could represent to me spiritually. For instance, a view of the sky represented a spiritual view of God’s nature as infinite, full of boundless possibilities. This helped me mentally define the uniqueness of my individuality. And it helped me acknowledge that God already had a perfect place for me.

As I was doing this, a real estate agent called me about an available flat. It had an open view to the Eiffel Tower and seemed just too good to be true. This flat had been taken by someone who’d then changed her mind, and now it was on the market again. It had everything on my list, including a garage and a kitchen. It was in a location that was perfect for me – and it was in my price range.

I quickly rented the flat. It turned out to be a very peace-filled home and neighborhood, and seeing the Eiffel Tower glitter at night always reminded me how brilliant God’s love is.

As we come to learn that the expression of beauty and Soul isn’t reserved for a few, we see more evidence of God’s love in our lives. This is God’s promise for each one of us.

Adapted from an article published in the Dec. 3, 2007, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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