Every summer, while spending time at a camp for Christian Scientists in Colorado, I find myself spiritually renewed, revived, ready to go out into the world and do good. Something about those majestic Collegiate Peaks, the rushing Arkansas River, and the rustic feel of the cabins makes me feel at home. I could almost say that I feel closer to God.
But as the summer comes to a close, and school picks up again, I often find myself falling into feeling separated from God. It’s sometimes as though going back down to sea level takes me away from that feeling of closeness.
So how can I stay at an elevated spiritual altitude all year long? I’d like to share some ideas that have helped me.
One time at camp, while taking a rigorous hike up a 14,000-foot mountain, I was struggling with physical exhaustion and a bad attitude. A counselor, in an effort to encourage me, shared one small phrase with me, “Inhale inspiration, exhale demonstration.” To me this meant that I needed to mentally take in all the good around me, expressed by my fellow campers and counselors, and let that be my inspiration for every action. Rather than doing this because I had been told to, I was taking this hike to express God and to demonstrate His goodness. Each step I took was a demonstration of God’s divine energy and joy. And so those four simple words, “Inhale inspiration, exhale demonstration,” carried me through the rest of the hike, and I continued to think about that throughout the summer.
One definition of inspiration is “the action or act of breathing in or inhaling.” Taking in inspiration, I’ve realized, isn’t something that only happens at camp. It can come naturally and easily all the time, like breathing, and we can never be without it. Mary Baker Eddy mentioned it in the definition of Jacob in Science and Health: “Inspiration; the revelation of Science, in which the so-called material senses yield to the spiritual sense of Life and Love” (p. 589). So, like with Jacob’s victory when he wrestled with the angel in the Bible, what we need to do when we are wrestling with something is to yield to Life and Love, and not let a material sense of things have control. The idea, the spiritual fact, that feeling close to God is so natural, has helped me remain grounded through the school year.
Recently, I found myself overloaded with activities and things to keep up with. I was participating in the school musical, running on the track team, taking dance lessons, doing volunteer work at a retirement home, and trying to maintain good grades in school. I felt stressed constantly and had no free time. With hardly enough time to get a good night’s sleep each night, I couldn’t imagine how I had time to pray.
Then a friend shared a helpful quote with me from Science and Health: “Consistent prayer is the desire to do right” (p. 9). This made me remember that since all I was trying to do was express God and do good through multiple outlets, I was already consistently praying and glorifying God. I realized that being a spiritual thinker wasn’t a chore; it was something effortless and joy-filled.
I found that staying spiritually aware and active wasn’t about how much time I spent “studying religion”; it was about how I put what I had already learned about Christian Science into practice. Constantly recognizing the goodness in everything and seeing every person and experience as an expression of God helped me see how close and ever present God really is, no matter where we are.
All of these lessons really helped me realize that I am, and always will be, close with God, no matter what. I see now that doing good and recognizing good can come naturally all the time, and is what truly brings that feeling of “spiritual altitude” and atonement with God. It’s as simple as breathing!
Cassidy Alford is a sophomore in high school. She loves dancing, being outdoors, and hanging out with friends.
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