A few years ago, I had to buy a new vacuum cleaner because the old one wouldn’t work anymore. When something gets old, we tend to discard it for a new replacement. We get a new pair of shoes when the old ones wear out; we get a new car when the old one no longer runs. Aging mortals are even tempted to see themselves like an inefficient vacuum cleaner or worn-out pair of shoes or old car. When the body suggests decay where once there’d been ease of function, graceful movement, and beauty, we can be tempted to believe we are on our way out, too.
Genesis affirms otherwise. It states that we were made in God’s image and likeness. All that God, Good, is, we reflect: Spirit, Life, Truth, Love, Principle, Mind, Soul. As God’s offspring, our true substance is not mortal nor temporal, but eternal. We are no more capable of discord and decay than is our Source. Think about it. We are incapable of discord and decay! Our eternal identity never expires.
Because our real identity is spiritual, not material, counting human birthdays is pointless. Birthdays have no place in eternity. Aging concepts deployed by media, advertising, well-meaning friends and neighbors, lead to a multitude of bombarding unfavorable beliefs. Our defense is in knowing who we really are, in accepting the truth about our divine heritage. Our birthright is God’s everlasting gift to us. Mortal, material conjectures about aging do not represent us nor our Creator. God can’t deteriorate, so neither can we as God’s heirs. Deterioration is a mortal conspiracy that needs to be discarded. Decades need not bring decline. The first sign suggesting decline needs to be quickly dismissed, replaced promptly with the truth: that we are God’s ageless sons and daughters ever in God’s care.
I get my teeth cleaned twice a year and at one of these cleanings I was warned by the dentist that gum disease and large pockets could be issues for me. But I never accepted this. I knew my true substance emanates from God. I held to this. When the next cleaning time came round, both the hygienist and the dentist each independently remarked how beautiful my teeth are and how healthy my gums are—unusual, they added, “for someone my age.” On the way home, I thanked God for this small but significant acknowledgement of my true identity. I dismissed the age remark, knowing that aging doesn’t occur in the kingdom of God–the only place we truly have being.
That summer, my husband and I made joint appointments to get new glasses, not having done so in a decade. I was pleased when the optometrist who had given my eyes a thorough exam, told me that I had no need of new glasses because my vision had not deteriorated at all, that I still had 20/20 vision with the old pair, and he added there were no signs of cataracts or other aging problems one might expect “at my age.” He added how extraordinary this was for someone as old as me. Again, I silently rejected the age statement and thanked God for the good vision report.
These experiences happened a dozen years ago. They came to mind last month when I learned of a classmate’s passing. A high school classmate has graciously taken it upon himself to email our entire class whenever a member passes, giving a summary of his or her life accomplishments, allowing us to appreciate the individual’s contributions. I emailed him back, thanking him for taking on this thoughtful task.
This caused me to think about my own recent 80th birthday. I thought about those experiences years ago with dentist and optometrist and how both my eyes and teeth have continued to be unchanged, in excellent health. I realized that any suggestion of aging can be conquered, that birthdays need not mean depletion or decay. I began to think of birthday in a new way.
What is birth but an awakened consciousness? And what is day but “the irradiance of Life” (see Eddy’s definition of day, Science and Health, p. 584). I looked up irradiance in dictionaries and thesaurus, and discovered its wonderful meaning and synonyms: shine, gleam, glow, luminosity, effulgence, brilliance, dazzle. What an inspiring description of day! I realized that a birthday is really any day we spiritually wake up to shine! Rather than celebrating another earthly year, a birthday can actually be a celebration of acknowledging our eternal spiritual reality. A birthday is an opportunity to express who we are as God creation–spiritual, fresh, radiant. We are the irradiance of Life. We can shine! Gleam! Even dazzle! This new way of looking at a birthday, enables us–any day, every day–to express love, honesty, generosity, intelligence, beauty, energy, strength, graceful movement, and all the good God has bestowed on His/Her sons and daughters. What a perfect way to celebrate a birthday! Even today can be your HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Artwork: Dancing to my Own Music, framed mixed media, 34″ x28″, $975. Ahh! This has long been a favorite work. I repeat showing it again on this website because it represents the idea of dazzling beyond limitations. The painting grew out of my women’s studies interest as well as spiritual study and habit of playing favorite music while painting. To my eye, this piece turned out perfectly. Though several potential customers nearly bought it, I’ve never minded that it hasn’t sold. It hangs in my gallery where I can enjoy it. When it goes, it will be to one who understands its meaning and beauty.