‘Dwell in possibility’
“Dwell in possibility” was the central message of a middle-school graduation speech I heard. These timeless words of Emily Dickinson invite us to leave behind the mundane, calculated, and limited ways of living, and consider the idea that what we hope for is possible. Not only is good possible, but good is the motif and common denominator of our lives.
Dickinson’s poem implies that good is a permanent mental state, rather than a haphazard wish list. We should treat this expectancy of good like a primary residence, not like a vacation home or time share. But how can we see beyond the world’s scene of impossibility and insecurity? How can we really hope and not be afraid of failure?
I can remember a time when I was challenged to consider all that was possible in my life. I was graduating from college, and I wasn’t exactly hopeful or ready to “dwell in possibility” with practical needs looming. I just wanted to know, Would I have a job? A place to live? Food to eat? Transportation? And friends?
While taking a walk one spring day, I pondered these questions. I started with the need for a car. I knew that I probably should buy a car to get to work and back, but how was I going to get a car without a job? I already had student loans, and I knew that my parents weren’t able to fund such a big purchase. It was all so complicated and hard not to feel overwhelmed.
This line of reasoning wasn’t getting me anywhere. So I started on a more inspired tack. I remembered this verse from the Bible: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 7:7).
Up until that point, I’d been discouraged from really asking and then trusting God to care for me. I felt I was much more in touch with my needs, accomplishments, and desires than God was. But I knew that it was time to give up my tightly spun plans and yield to a more spiritual sense of life.
I had experienced numerous blessings throughout college – work opportunities, greater physical strength for dance performances, and mental endurance with academic assignments. So I knew that God’s care was continuous, whatever transition I was facing. Because my sufficiency was of God, I knew that I didn’t have to merely hope but that I could “dwell in [divine] possibility.”
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, a companion text to the Bible, includes this question: “Shall we plead for more at the open fount, which is pouring forth more than we accept?” (p. 2).
Back on my walk that spring day, I didn’t feel anxious about entering the working world. I knew that truly the “fount” was open to us all. I didn’t need mere optimism; I needed to go to the fount, expectant of the unbridled and sustainable good that comes through spiritual understanding and qualities.
Though I didn’t know what kind of car or transportation I would need, I prayed, valuing the spiritual essence of transportation – efficiency, practicality, safety, and even joy. The more I was aware of these qualities in my life while walking to class, riding a bike, or borrowing a friend’s car, the more peaceful I felt about my transition from college.
Only a few weeks after I started engaging with this idea of infinite good or possibility, I was offered a job that was just right. The position included many of the qualities that I’d been cherishing when thinking about transportation. Shortly after that, I was able to buy a car by using my savings for the down payment. A letter from my future employer enabled me to get a loan to pay for the car.
Now, with the car paid off and several cross-country trips later, I can see that more than getting my life in order, I was establishing myself spiritually. When I stopped struggling with how and when I thought things should happen, I was primed for infinite blessings.
“Dwelling in possibility” was already proving vital to daily life.
Originally published in The Christian Science Monitor, June 17, 2009.