Anyone who has suffered from loneliness may feel the truth of this statement by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science: ''There are no greater miracles known to earth than perfection and an unbroken friendship.'' n1
n1 Retrospection and Introspection, p. 80.
Loneliness can be ruled out of consciousness, and out of our experience, however, for it is not of God, who sees His offspring as perfectly satisfied and complete.
The Bible teaches that man, as God has truly created him, is complete, lacking nothing. n2 To love another as oneself, in the deepest sense, and to experience the friendship that follows, we need to discern man as God has made him - as the expression of the qualities that He imparts: goodness, justice, beauty, joy, gentleness. This takes practice as well as patience in the face of negative traits. But success in this Christian work is inevitable, because ungodlike qualities have no actual foundation, no reality in God or man, and are therefore powerless.
n2 See Colossians 2:10.
Loneliness is the outcome of what Paul calls the carnal mind. It is not a product of the one, infinitely good divine Mind. Our true and only selfhood dwells forever in God, limitless Mind, and is eternally satisfied. There can be no lack in this spiritually peopled realm, since God's ideas are harmonious and fulfilled. This truth, though perhaps abstract to a material view of things, is nevertheless a practical, unfailing remedy for loneliness.
Probably everyone, at some time, suffers pangs of loneliness. I did when I married and moved to another country, leaving friends and family behind. Feeling very much alone, I asked a Christian Science practitioner for help through prayer. She recommended that I ponder the following passage from Miscellaneous Writingsm by Mrs. Eddy: ''Brother, sister, beloved in the Lord, knowest thou thyself, and art thou acquainted with God? If not, I pray thee as a Christian Scientist, delay not to make Him thy first acquaintance.'' n3
n3 Mis., p. 151.
My principal need, of course, was to get to know God better. And so I studied the attributes of God with the help of the Concordances to the Bible and to Mrs. Eddy's writings. Also, I asked myself: What are some of the enemies of friendship? Aren't they such negative traits as shyness, self-centeredness, pride, suspicion? I then tried harder to express their opposites - selflessness, thoughtfulness, generosity, trust, humility.
As I learned how to bem a better friend, I was motivated to get to know a number of people with tastes and interests similar to mine. One of these became a lifelong friend, and our relationship has blessed us both.
The Bible narrative of David and Jonathan n4 is a classic example of undying friendship. Although Jonathan might have considered himself the logical successor to the throne of Israel, David was chosen by Samuel. Jonathan put friendship ahead of envy, and he more than once saved David's life when it was threatened by Saul. As the story goes, ''Jonathan loved him as his own soul.'' n 5
n4 see I Samuel, chaps. 18-20.
n5 I Samuel 18:1.
Christ Jesus proved himself the greatest friend the world has ever known by actually laying down his human life for mankind. Jesus made God his first friend , and the multitudes sought him out. ''He that sent me,'' said Jesus, ''is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.'' n6
n6 John 8:29.
If we ''do always those things that please him,'' we can feel God always with us, guarding and guiding us. What could be a better way to ensure that we, too, are never alone? DAILY BIBLE VERSE Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness. Matthew 6:33