TATTERED, thread-worn teddy bears are sometimes the only ones to hear a child's deepest fears. These small, silent friends listen faithfully as child and bear snuggle under warm blankets. Faithful friends, secret places--is the adult any different from the child in that desire for safe refuge when fear flows in? There is a presence that is ever near and always able to dissolve fears. That presence is God and His unspeakable love. When children grow up the teddy bears are usually left behind. And even children, in the light of day, see their ``secret places'' disappear as they make their beds. Yet with God's love there is no parting, no outgrowing. His love is always here and always at work.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says, ``Man's refuge is in spirituality, `under the shadow of the Almighty.' '' 1 Those reassuring words ``shadow of the Almighty'' are from Psalms: ``He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.'' 2
Could this, then, be our ``secret place'' of safe abiding, one more constant than even the quietest, warmest physical location? And if so, how can we and our children gain entry to such a place?
We can think of the ``secret place of the most High'' as the place where God's love is. And because God is infinite, His love is present everywhere to be discerned and felt.
God's love, like a ray of bright sunshine, displaces fear and even terror. To feel His love in prayer is not a matter of hiding from what we fear. True prayer isn't escapism. Rather it's a clear recognition of divine Love's infiniteness, and this brings healing. Fear and the ills associated with it lose their place entirely and disappear, because they cannot stand in the light of God's love.
Through prayer we can understand more clearly the truths of God and man, which endure despite circumstances, and which triumph. Glorifying the truth that God is supreme and that His love for man is all-powerful and omnipresent, we allow divine power to displace the fearsome images that had occupied our thought and to harmonize our lives. In one of her poems Mrs. Eddy writes:
Love is our refuge; only with mine
Can I behold the snare, the pit, the
fall: His habitation high is here, and
His arm encircles me, and mine,
Wasn't that secret place just what was needed and found, as we read in the Biblical account of the three Hebrew men thrust into the fiery furnace, and in the case of Daniel thrown into the lions' den? David apparently found that secret place when he faced the giant Goliath. A child or an adult who remembers such examples and the truths they illustrate cannot help being encouraged in times of fear. Step by step, through prayer and practice, we can allow these truths to fill our thought with confidence and peace. To do so isn't to ignore evil but to de- feat it.
We might think of the references in the ninety-first Psalm to ``snare of the fowler'' and ``noisome pestilence'' as indicating subtle fears as well as overt dangers. Whatever the fear or apparent danger, the psalm assures us of God's un- failing presence as our certain refuge.
Each time we conquer fear by turning to this divine refuge, we are overcoming terror. And, by what we've accomplished, the world itself is a bit freer of terror. Children and adults alike can join in prayer and include the entire earth and its peoples in that secret place.
1 Unity of Good, p. 57. 2 Psalms 91:1. 3 Poems, p. 4. DAILY BIBLE VERSE God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalms 46:1