Going home for the holidays?

Many people will be. Many others might long to, and be unable. And some might be feeling a degree of emptiness or disassociation from a loving family center.

To have a happy place to come home to or go back to is a special thought - a particularly treasured one for many. So much so that when it is lacking or seems intangible, we may be tempted to feel wistful or depressed.

A happy home and family life is an ideal, and one to be legitimately desired and believed in. But if that ideal doesn't seem present in our lives, where does that leave us? Actually it leaves us at no disadvantage in participating in the unselfish giving and receiving of family love, which each one of us - as we discover ourselves to be the sons and daughters of God - is able to have. The Bible provides a specific promise along these lines: ''God setteth the solitary in families.'' n1

n1 Psalms 68:6.

''How will He do this for me?'' one might ask. And that's a fair question. In fact, we oughtm to ask it if we don't feel properly ''familied'' at this season (or any season!).

That ''God setteth the solitary in families'' was an idea I included in a special study time I used for gaining more understanding of spiritual things. Within the span of a year, my marriage had ended and my mother, with whom I had shared a particularly close relationship, had passed on. I felt very alone, since the other members of my family were neither nearby nor happy, and I had no other relatives or close companions to be with.

By the time the holidays rolled around, I wasn't filled with much joyful anticipation. While I tried not to allow my feelings of loneliness and disappointment to show on the outside, I was very unhappy and secretly envious of those I saw who seemed to be well ''familied.''

Christian Science had taught me, on the basis of God's absolute goodness and supremacy, to rouse myself from mental swamps. So I set about searching to discover what I needed to know and see in this particular circumstance about God's nature and about my own true nature.

I continued to give special time to reading my Bible. While going through the New Testament, I was impressed by how often and unfailingly Christ Jesus referred to God as ''Father.'' His universally loved Lord's Prayer begins ''Our Father,'' and he often referred to God as ''my Father'' and ''your Father.'' This closeness is beautifully characterized in his words, ''He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone.'' n2

n2 John 8:29.

These words suggested to me the family relationship Jesus felt. He understood that he was loved; he felt himself to be the object of his Father's love and could do no less than demonstrate that powerful love in his life.

I began to see that going home for the holidays is really a mental journey - a recognition that home is found in the consciousness of our relationship to our Father-Mother God. As we begin to grasp and deeply feel the truth of our relationship to God as His spiritual creation, as the very expression of His being, we'll find the love and harmony and joy inherent in that relationship tangibly manifested in our lives.

''Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation,'' writes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. ''As the apostle expressed it in words which he quoted with approbation from a classic poet: 'For we are also His offspring.' '' n3

n3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 332.

Being more receptive to my own lovable and loving nature as the child of God brought more of His fatherly and motherly qualities into my experience. First, in my own thinking and living, and gradually in the expression of these qualities through other people. My apartment became the setting where I shared my growing sense of love with others that season. And that sense of love was primarily a consciousness of God's presence and love.

''Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations,'' n4 the Bible tells us. As we establish a clear understanding of our spiritual relationship to God, we'll help establish a genuine feeling of home wherever we are, and we'll see it manifested in just the right ways.

n4 Psalms 90:1.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE Thus saith the Lord . . . As one, whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you. Isaiah 66:12, 13

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