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What makes a year new?

From The Christian Science Journal - December 31, 2012

“Time to make the donuts.” This was the tag line in a popular 1980s television commercial for a national donut chain that advertised the freshness of its donuts. Who could forget the dedication of Fred the Baker as he robotically went through his early-morning rounds, mumbling over and over, “Time to make the donuts.” And who couldn’t empathize with him as he finished with hunched shoulders and even less vigor, muttering, “I made the donuts.” 

While we can appreciate the humor of the ad, it’s also a reminder of how enslaving it can feel when we find ourselves trapped in any kind of monotonous routine.

As the start of a new year prompts us to reflect on the past and look ahead to the future, we may find ourselves thinking with more urgency about things that haven’t been working in our lives—areas where we feel stuck, unproductive, or stagnant. This is a great first step, but will the turning of a calendar page really bring the transformation and progress our hearts yearn for? It can, if we view the new year from a God-centered perspective.

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy’s definitive textbook on the Science of Christianity, contains a glossary that gives a spiritual perspective on common concepts as well as biblical terms. In it the term year is defined in part as “a solar measurement of time; mortality; space for repentance” (p. 598).

Though we may not have articulated it in those words, the idea of a year being “space for repentance” really resonates with most of us. Otherwise, why are we motivated to make New Year’s resolutions? The key to real progress is to become less impressed by the concept of a year as a passage of time and more conscious of the opportunity each moment holds for repentance, which basically means “to turn from” or “to change one’s mind.” 

Will the turning of a calendar page really bring the transformation and progress our hearts yearn for?

Repentance was something Christ Jesus often urged on his listeners, as recorded in the Bible: “Repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). This is an instruction we can adhere to every moment of every day by changing the way we think about our bodies, our activities, our finances, and our relationships. This involves mental alertness so that whenever we find ourselves viewing things from a strictly physical (or mortal) basis, we are ready to shift our perspective, to repent, and turn to a more spiritual view. 

For example, instead of seeing the body as a compilation of material organs, muscles, and bones, we can begin to view it as composed of spiritual qualities, such as strength, flexibility, beauty, and symmetry. And instead of regarding our day-to-day activities as a humdrum round of chores, we can find in them opportunities for the expression of Christly qualities, such as gratitude, compassion, humility, and love.

Christ, Truth, works with us in this endeavor. It’s the divine influence that encourages us to turn from the contemplation of mortality, and all of the limitations implied therein, to the gospel, the good news that our lives are something more than a “solar measurement of time.” Then even what appears to be the passing of human years becomes blessed with opportunities for growth and transformation. We are lifted out of a “time-to-make-the-donuts” kind of life and set on a path of perpetual discovery and, yes, newness. Newness that has nothing to do with a date stamp and everything to do with what we’re allowing to be stamped or to make an impression on our consciousness. The teachings of Christian Science and the spiritual light they shine on the Scriptures continue to help many foster and sustain the understanding that leads to this type of renewal.

Alison Bristow-Wilburn lives in Southern California.

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