Education, graduations, and lifetime milestones

When I was a young person growing up in the United States, there were two graduations most of us looked forward to—high school and college. But today there are graduations from kindergarten, middle school, and junior high school, as well as high school and various degrees of higher education.

Certainly, it’s a grand thing to have completed a course of academic study. Graduation time is cause for celebration by those graduating, and for parents who are so very proud of their children’s accomplishments. It’s a time of progress—something new to look forward to.

Graduation time can be an especially happy time for a college graduate who knows what is coming next and is looking forward to it with eagerness and confidence—perhaps a new academic pursuit for an advanced degree, or a good job in a career one is thrilled to be starting. But graduation time can also bring a sense of trepidation about one’s future—perhaps because of student loans to repay, or having no job pinned down, or some other factor. And when you get right down to it, there can be uncertainties for children, as well as young adults, about what comes next after any graduation.

In order to find answers to such concerns, it helps to realize that though academic graduations are important milestones, real progress in any situation comes when education is understood as a form of lifetime development. And looking at education as a spiritual pursuit can make all the difference in the world in how a person “graduates,” if you will, from both the minor and major challenges that have a way of coming up in every human being’s experience. A spiritual approach to education prepares one to move on in a progressively productive and happy way through and beyond even the most difficult challenges. 

It’s been especially helpful to me to learn that no one is, or ever can be, stuck in a thwarted state of educational development. Because God, the divine Mind, which is infinite, is everyone’s true source of intelligence, there is nothing to stop anyone from being led to higher and higher mental development and achievement. True education is actually a leading out of the infinite possibilities already within each individual as God’s spiritual image and likeness—“the compound idea of God, including all right ideas” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 475).

But in regard to human progress, here’s an arresting statement: “Earth’s preparatory school must be improved to the utmost” (Science and Health, p. 486). And the highest form of true education consists in letting God, divine Love, draw out the infinite possibilities that are within us as Spirit’s infinite idea. Through reverence for God and humble spiritual study of the Bible and Science and Health—and prayer—our unlimited capacities for growth are being brought out every day. In this way we are being led, step by step, out of the limitations connected with the belief of life and intelligence in matter.

A spiritual approach to education prepares one to move on in a progressively productive and happy way through and beyond even the most difficult challenges. 

Every challenge we face is an opportunity to graduate to a higher understanding and demonstration of our unlimited spiritual capacities. And this growth serves to expand our opportunities for higher and higher service and productivity in our human experience while we move forward spiritually. 

Christ Jesus’ teaching did this very thing for his followers, as it still does today. When Jesus saw some men fishing, he discerned that they were ready to learn of the infinite abilities they had within themselves for higher service. He invited them to “graduate” into a higher course of education—a spiritual education that would turn them into Christian healers. Calling to them, he said: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him” (Matthew 4:19, 20). Jesus’ teachings, and the life-lessons his followers learned along an often rugged path, gradually drew out their spiritual discernment and ability to follow in his footsteps as healers.

The ultimate of what Jesus taught these disciples is of vital importance to us in our lifetime educational experiences, and in our ability to practice Christian Science healing. Before Jesus’ crucifixion, knowing that this event would mightily test their confidence, he humbly washed their feet as if he was their servant, and said they must do the same for each other. That was one of the highest forms of education for them—and for us. But he carried it even further; he said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you” (see John 13:4–35).

After Jesus’ resurrection, he found that because of their despair due to his crucifixion, the disciples had lapsed into that state of limited expectations for themselves they had had before their spiritual education under Jesus. Instead of “fishing” for the health and souls of men as he had taught them, they had gone back to fishing for fish again, and with an empty net. However, with Christly, forgiving love, Jesus roused them to “cast the net on the right side”—on the spiritual side of expectation—and their net became so full they could not pull it in (John 21:6). And so, their education expanded; they learned that Jesus’ Christly love was indeed the highest lesson they would ever need to learn, and that their abilities could not shrink, but would continue to be brought forth into fuller expression. So, they went forward to “heal the sick, cleanse the leper, raise the dead, cast out devils,” as Jesus had instructed them (Matthew 10:8).

Our abilities, given to us by God, are unlimited. We need only to pursue education from a spiritual standpoint, and let God draw our infinite possibilities into expression—day by day. We’ll have many milestones, or graduations—and achievements in breaking through the supposed limitations of matter—until we finally work out our full salvation through Christ, Truth, and Love. 

Barbara Vining

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