A new year, like the next chapter of a story, isn’t supposed to be more of the same. There’s an expectancy, or at least a hope, that the days ahead will somehow be different; that they’ll be better.
We need “better” in so many areas. Warmer relations in and among people; communities free of tension and hostility. Steady, more satisfying activities. Better health. It’s not a short list.
There are plenty of people endeavoring to improve human life, and many are better off as a result. Still, better humanitarian help can’t meet all the needs. People can have many things and still feel deep discontent.
Is it possible to satisfy the heart’s longing for something better, and to find lasting contentment? The answer is yes, and it lies in discovering greater spirituality.
Spirituality isn’t some pie-in-the-sky dreaminess, keeping our head in the clouds while our lives roll on dull and unfulfilled. Greater spirituality means an inspired life; it’s the practical and rewarding effect of enlarging our understanding of Spirit, God, and of what flows from Him.
It’s Spirit, not matter, that provides the qualities that make life deeply satisfying. Goodness, vitality, stability, happiness, freedom, wisdom, all come from God who is Life itself. In Science and Health Mary Baker Eddy writes: “A mortal, corporeal, or finite conception of God cannot embrace the glories of limitless, incorporeal Life and Love. Hence the unsatisfied human craving for something better, higher, holier, than is afforded by a material belief in a physical God and man.”
There’s nothing more uplifting than Spirit. Nothing is more enduring. Spirit is eternal, and the qualities of Spirit are inexhaustible; they don’t run down, leaving us feeling empty and disappointed.
Spirit is enlivening and perpetual. Our heartfelt desire to discover more spirituality is a potent prayer to enlarge our sense of Spirit and enrich our lives.
Goodness never came through nor does it abide in material forms. It’s not infused into a more luxurious apartment or a sportier new car. The nature of matter makes it impossible for matter to be an agency for genuine good, which is spiritual. Spirit alone, and in countless ways, fulfills the heart’s longing for good.
As we become more acquainted with Spirit, it’s really quite natural to find the goodness and satisfaction we’re looking for. A deeper affection for others, greater selflessness, thoughts that comfort and heal, purposeful activity—all the manifestations of a more spiritual life. Nothing is more meaningful. All these point to the actual nature of man as the likeness of God, good. They also characterize the life of Christ Jesus, who didn’t descend into thinking that life is material and intolerably empty. Quite the contrary. He said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
Prayer not only brings us an awareness of the abundance of spiritual qualities inherent in man, it also helps us break free from the repressiveness of a fleshly sense of ourselves. Self-centeredness, bitterness, narrowness, and so forth would keep us from fully expressing the spiritual qualities that we intuitively know man to include.
When we feel something of the expression of Spirit through prayer, we’re empowered to reject any resistance to spirituality. We’re impelled to show more compassion, to have a greater measure of patience, or to be more loving and forgiving. This is putting our prayers for more spirituality into action. It rouses us to see more of our true selfhood.
So instead of thinking of greater spirituality as a lofty or impractical goal, too distant to make a real and immediate difference in an otherwise drab, material world, we should instead see it as the very essence of life. Man isn’t the joyless, material creature we’re tempted to believe he is.
If we long to heal discontent, if we’re tired of ending our days with the disappointment that nothing seems to be improving, then consistent prayer for more spirituality is worth pursuing. What we gain will not only cheer our hearts but it will gradually, profoundly improve our lives. Not only that, but a more spiritual life conveys a quiet yet unmistakable message to others. It touches and brightens the hearts of those who also may be longing for something better themselves. Wouldn’t this, more than all else, make for a grand new year, and beyond?