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Breaking barriers in golf

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As I look at the array of youthful talent on display at this month’s US Open women’s and men’s golf tournaments, I can’t help thinking of an astute observation made by Mary Baker Eddy: “While age is halting between two opinions or battling with false beliefs, youth makes easy and rapid strides towards Truth” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 236).

For eons it seems, the belief in golf was that players wouldn’t reach their peak until they were in their 30s. But the rules of age and success have radically changed. Tiger Woods began the tidal shift when he turned pro, in 1996 at age 20, and almost immediately became the world No. 1. Nowadays, teens and preteens are rocketing to the game’s zenith, fueled by qualities —many of them spiritual in nature—previously thought unattainable by youth: focus, meticulousness, maturity, and patience, to name a few. The latest example is Lucy Li, an 11-year-old who qualified for the Women’s Open at Pinehurst. Li’s idol? Rory McIlroy, the former World No. 1, who is all of 25 years old. McIlroy, winner of the 2011 men’s US Open, will be one of many preternatural youngsters trying to win a second US Open, beginning on June 12, also at Pinehurst.

Such golfers point to the fact that the spiritual qualities most of us admire are not restricted to people of a certain age. As Christian Science teaches, they flow from our Father-Mother God, who is wholly spiritual and ageless. As our divine Parent, God is the constant source of our identity, and God definitely doesn’t make us wait for anything good. We are now and eternally Godlike­ —complete and blessed with an abundance of composure, strength, and humility.

Of course, the fact that we all, no matter the age, possess spiritual God-created completeness doesn’t mean that a toddler can climb Mt. Everest or a teenager can captain a 747. But people of any age are capable of understanding their spiritual God-formed identity and expressing it in satisfying and great ways. I speak from experience as the father of four children aged four to 12.

Every day I pray with our children, affirming that God is our true Parent, and that everything about us is the outcome of God, not of other people, weather, a human body, or any matter-based beliefs. Because God is Spirit, the children (and I) are completely spiritual—filled with spiritual qualities, governed by spiritual laws, and attracted to spiritual desires and goals. 

Christ Jesus was especially fond of children and was richly aware of their spiritual potential. Once, he called a child to stand among a group of adults, to whom he said: “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Radical advice, but don’t we all want to experience the kingdom of heaven now? For some people, that could mean playing in the US Open at age 11. For somebody else, it could mean learning to play piano at age 82. So long as we’re following Jesus’ direction by cultivating childlike qualities in ourselves such as innocence, diligence, humility, and freedom from wrong, we can all find success and joy no matter our age.

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