Caring carefully

One of my sharpest memories of being on a town youth commission is of a visit to a drug addiction treatment center. It was a bleak experience in every way - from the crumbling linoleum on the floor of the dispensing office, to the stale corridors where the forlorn young people (most under twenty) waited.

For several hours I watched and listened in the administrator's office as he gave out legal prescriptions and straightforward counseling. The youngsters mumbled excuses and described what to me were incredible details of despair. They were from diverse religious and economic backgrounds. All moved in a peculiar fog of hopelessness.

I kept wondering how they got to this addicted state. Was there some common failing in the families they came from? When the last young man had gone, I asked the administrator. He said he didn't have a definitive answer, but that judging from his experience he thought that basically these kids didn't feel they were lovable. Their parents hadn't made love a part of their lives, so the kids tried to cope with feeling unloved through chemicals.

Then he pointed to a poster on the wall beside his desk and shrugged his shoulders. Under the dim 40-watt bulb some lines of poetry suddenly stood out as if someone were shouting them. They were by E. E. Cummings: be of love (a little) More careful Than of everything . . .

In subsequent years I've recalled that afternoon and its lesson about working and living with young people. Often I've asked, How can we really be careful, and more aware of love than of anything else?

I've become convinced that our love needs to be spiritually centered, that it should spring from a recognition of man's actual nature as the reflection of his creator, infinite Love itself. Such love is unconditional and spontaneous. It can be felt and expressed by anyone - parent, child, teacher, caseworker - who begins to recognize the fatherhood and motherhood of God, the nearness and power of Love. Perceiving the true Parent of every child as this infinite Love, we begin to see life and love as simultaneous. Accepting the spiritual status of each individual, we see how to cut through the layers of pain and resistance and to cherish his original, genuine nature.

The Bible refers many times to man's actual origin and status. For instance, Jeremiah reports, ''The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.'' n1

n1 Jeremiah 31:3

The nature of divine Love as Father-Mother was reflected in the life of Christ Jesus. This beloved Son illustrated the divine presence by his compassion for the multitude as well as for individuals. And the great joy of Christianity continues to be the example Jesus set forth in actually living the two commandments he said were of most importance: to love God completely and to love others as ourselves. n2 Jesus clearly showed that we can love God with the whole heart, and that it is possible to care for others by healing sin and sickness.

n2 See Matthew 22:36

His prayer included a willingness to ask, ''Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.'' n3 Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, gives the spiritual sense of this passage: ''And Love is reflected in love.'' n4

n3 Matthew 6:12

n4 Science and Health with Key to Scriptures, p. 17

To be truly careful in loving is to be fully aware of the unconditional nature of God's love for His creation. No one is unworthy; no one is beyond the reach of divine Love. Turning to God as the one Parent, we can be led to say and do exactly what the need may require.

As the child of God, every youngster has the right and natural capacity to love and be loved. He reflects his divine Father-Mother, and this spiritual fact , realized, is a shield against any absorption of destructive impulses. It's a sure basis for healing. The fact of man's sonship is irrevocable. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Beloved, let us love one another. I John 4:7

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