New Horizons: A Meditation on Universal Personal Realities that Transcend Debates over Naturalism and Theism
Daily new opportunities are available to everyone
Our individual lives contain many new opportunities that expectantly wait for us to see them and accept them. Thus, in effect, a new world dawns before everyone of us every day with new horizons never before seen.
Such dawning occurs universally, whether we think about human life
(a) as one of the physical realities of nature (seen by the natural eye and the attempts of modern science to understand it and teach it), or
(b) as a spiritual event in the framework of supernatural divine Providence (experienced by the devout soul and the attempts of traditional religion to understand it and teach it).
For those who like scriptural support, try St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17b: "The old creation has passed away. Look for yourselves! A new one has come into being!" (MJH trans.). But you can find similar expressions about transcending old boundaries, and finding new life, in most of the world's religious traditions, and indeed, in most secular humanistic traditions as well.
When any one of us lifts up our eyes to notice this new world coming into being, our outlook can expand for us to see exciting new opportunities for good opening up before us, opportunities that may have seemed unlikely or even impossible to us just yesterday.
My friends, whatever your life situation, belief system, or political position, we need not bore ourselves to death with the same old worn-out projects, plans, and propositions that served us well, perhaps, in days gone by. Today we can lift our eyes both physically and spiritually to see a new world dawning with a promising new perspective on the opportunities and responsibilities of life. We can see it, we can believe it, we can love it, and we can act on it, to move our own lives forward as we stay in touch with this ever-changing world.
We can reach down deep inside ourselves to understand ourselves (and others), and to find and use the best we have within us. We can shake the dust off those special things about us that make us unique in body and mind, heart and soul, as well as in our own unique blend of association with others, and where we fit into the larger structures of society and nature.
We can also reach up high outside ourselves to make fresh contact with the objective world and the points of opportunity in our vicinity. By waking up to these new horizons, and rejoicing in them, we not only help ourselves, but we also help to make the world a better place for everyone else as well. The attitudes of opportunity, expectation, and promise are contagious.
Do we cringe from past reversals and other disappointments that still anger us and undermine our motivation and goodwill? Do we fear an uncertain future?
Fortunately, we have good alternatives to doing nothing. We can entrust our problems to the reliability of nature's perennial seasons and refreshing day-night cycle, and/or if we can believe in God, we can rely on the loving forgiveness of a perfect Providence. Which path we prefer usually depends on our previous experience and our various personal, family, religious, and cultural backgrounds.
(1) Love of nature can teach us patience with ourselves and others as we respectfully observe nature's beauty, order, and continuity in the midst of all its many moods. Those of us who love nature can continually gain fresh insight, inspiration, and faith in the goodness of creation just as we learned to trust its daily cycles of renewal. When we live consciously in harmony with the beautiful reliable rhythms of physical nature, we can truly relax and enjoy the coming of each new horizon.
(2) Love of God can teach the wisdom of nurturing the divine perspective on all things large and small. The transcendent framework encourages those of us who love God to keep on learning and teaching, to keep on giving and forgiving, to keep on looking for the good in ourselves and in others. We can learn the ways of God from the scriptures and teachings of our particular faith communities, or from the study of physical nature itself, as Matthew's Jesus clearly taught (Mt 6:25-34).
Thus naturalism and theism need not be mutually exclusive so as to frustrate our common desire to live and be happy and productive together. Whether we characteristically express our respect for physical nature, or turn our devotion to a Creator God, or have learned how to understand, value, and love both of these our parents, we gain a vantage point to see the new horizon of a new world anytime our respect, our honor, and our love goes beyond ourselves, and beyond our common boundaries.
Each person may see a new horizon in the most appropriate possible way. One restless person may go find a new job, but another might re-value the job they already have. One family may move to a new home, but another might better organize, use, and appreciate the home they already have. One weary soul may take a much needed vacation, but another might find refreshing new happiness in a situation they cannot leave for now. New horizons inspire one person to make a change, another to just make a change in attitude.
No matter what your social or economic status in life; no matter what your age, sex, race, or religion; no matter how you vote or how you look; no matter what your personality type; no matter even whether you've been a particularly good or bad person in the past; you still have access everyday to the many opportunities for new horizons in your life.
Here I offer as an experiment a universal affirmation/prayer. Those readers who believe in physical nature may affirm these five statements in the context of a beautiful, bountiful, and reliable physical universe. Those readers who believe in a spiritual God may offer these same five statements as a prayer to the loving Almighty God of their faith.
You may revise the wording, or use the singular "I" instead of the community "we" (which merely includes you with others), but in any case, we want all our students and readers to enjoy the benefit of saying words like these every day or every night before you sleep. Please let me know if this does, or does not, work well for you.
1. We want to live and be happy, healthy, productive persons.
2. We forgive all past offenses.
3. We focus ourselves on the opportunities now at hand.
4. We open ourselves up to receive the good trying to come our way.
5. We commit ourselves to finding and fulfilling our unique personal destinies and responsibilities to the benefit of all.
Copyright (c) 2011 by Max J. Havlick, New World Community Enterprises, Inc., 16 W. Vermont St., Villa Park, IL 60181-1938, all rights reserved. First written 1988, first published October 1994. Permission granted to make exact copies for free distribution only.
This meditation intends to encourage people seeking a fresh start regardless of situation or background, and to promote harmony among diverse belief systems without ignoring or disrespecting their differences. We welcome and invite reader response to this "work in progress."