© 2011-2023 Michelle Boccanfuso Nanouche, CSB. All rights reserved. Pages updated 2 December, 2022.
Life without age or decay
A year or so after my first husband passed on, I caught a glimpse of a white head and wrinkly face on the living room mantle. I took a closer look at the last photo taken of him. I had no recollection of him like that.
He had been 34 years older than me; and yet, even after fifteen years of marriage, I had never noticed the age difference. In my eyes, he never acted or looked older. I showed my daughter the photo and asked if she remembered her dad as aging. She didn't, either.
A “Portrait of Dorian Gray” moment? I don’t think so. My husband just didn’t see himself as an aging mortal. He didn’t live his life that way. So, we didn’t see him that way either. I can only remember him as strong and handsome, vibrant and active. The photo may have captured the world’s belief about age, but he never looked like that.
Some months after the photo incident, I read an account of a woman whose child had drowned at about eighteen months. Seven or so years later, the mother still deeply grieved. Praying to have the heaviness lifted off her heart one afternoon, the mom fell asleep and dreamed. She saw a young woman, beautiful, who looked to be in her late twenties. The woman said to her, "I am happy, don't be sad." When she awakened, the grief was gone.
Had she seen her daughter in the dream? According to a mortal timeline, the child would have only been 8 or 9. But it occurred to the mom that she had seen her daughter – but not as a mortal or a ghost. She glimpsed the eternal idea of God, reflected by her daughter – beautiful, healthy and alive. She realized that while she, the mom, had believed her daughter had passed through mortal stages of infancy and toddlerhood, and that then her life had been brutally interrupted; that, in fact, she had only and always existed at her highest and best, as the mature and magnificent reflection of the divine, unending Life who is God.
The Psalmist said of God, “You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life.” (16:10,11) Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "The radiant sun of virtue and truth coexists with being. Manhood is its eternal noon, undimmed by a declining sun." (246)
If manhood (including womanhood) is the eternal noon of virtue and truth, and if this is the “path of divine Life” that God makes known to us, could it be that babyhood, adolescence and old age are simply mortal, limited views of a spiritual being that only ever exists at its highest and most beautiful?
A year or so after my husband passed on, I also dreamed of him one night. In the dream, he was preparing to work on the roof. In a brief conversation we said how much we loved each other. Then he climbed the ladder and disappeared. In this dream he looked exactly as I always saw him – active, healthy, brimming with purpose. I didn’t see an age or stage. In fact, he seemed ageless.
Pulling these pieces together in thinking about true being, I have a whole new sense of existence at “eternal noon”. God’s man is not, and never has been, an immature mental, emotional or physical being. We are neither underdeveloped (babies), overdeveloped (aged), nor under a state of development (uncomfortable, agitated adolescents). God’s creation exists right now at its highest and best. That is how God, as Mind, creates and reveals each one of us, His perfect ideas.
We are neither dimmed by decline nor needing to grow brighter to reach our noon. We are always the brightest and best. Each one of us! And this day is about recognizing some yet undiscovered (but very present) aspect of our brilliance – true spiritual being at its eternal noon - and simply letting it shine.
Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
(Psalm 16:5-11, NIV)
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In the Bible, punctuation counts
In Biblical Hebrew, there is no punctuation. There is also no time indicator - no past or future tense. Everything is stated in the present. Translators have tried to bring out, according to their understanding, the original meaning by adding punctuation and chronology. But as the picture to the left points out, the meaning of a sentence can be hugely affected by even minor adjustments. The placement of a simple comma can mean life or death to Grandpa!
In translating the King James version, men from different backgrounds and religions participated in the process of word selection and punctuating. Sometimes extra words were added if they made clearer the meaning of a text. Thanks to intellectual integrity, additions were italicized to avoid confusion. Aside from the difficulties of translation, scholars are still debating the theology of the original Hebrew.
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I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no