SEVERAL images from the news stayed with me late into the evening. After the family had gone to bed I still lay awake, burdened by concern for the fatherless and motherless. Media attention, legislation, and social programs all help, but they aren't enough. Just that afternoon I had driven home behind a bumper sticker that said ``Cherish Every Child.'' I asked myself, ``Is there a way truly to cherish every child--even every human being? Of course the answer is yes. And I turned in prayer to God as I have learned to know Him--as Father-Mother.
Beyond the limitations of human parentage and the constraints of politics, geography, or poverty, God is caring for His creation. Each one of His children is dear to Him. Not only is He our all-powerful Father, but God is also our infinitely loving Mother, who never abandons a single child. Not one is unwanted, neglected, or unloved. God is always sustaining every one of His children, young and old. And we are all His children.
What of those images of despair? The suffering seemed so insurmountable to me that night. Many times graphic pictures of suffering confronted Christ Jesus. But there is no indication in the Bible that he was overwhelmed when faced with people in despair. Along with strength and authority, he expressed tender, mothering love. The source of these qualities was his Father-Mother God. And when Jesus said to an individual in need, ``Be of good comfort,'' healing followed. (See, for example, Matthew 9:22.)
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, opens new views of God's fathering, mothering care in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In one place she writes, ``Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation'' (p. 332). With fatherly strength and motherly tenderness, God protects and provides for every individual.
So what could I do? How could I help those in need? I could start by replacing the images of suffering that I was holding in thought with the true facts of God and man. God is Father-Mother; man is God's beloved child. And I could expect to see more love, purity, and respect in all aspects of my life as I endeavored to express Godlike qualities such as tenderness and strength more fully myself. It was up to me, not someone else, to find ways to give support and comfort to those who need mothering.
During those days and weeks that followed, I found unexpected ways to do these things. In fact, I was surprised by how many opportunities I had to comfort people I already knew! For example, I knew a woman who no longer had any family members and felt overcome by loneliness. Another friend had lost both parents and desperately needed to feel closer to her Father-Mother God.
Strengthened by the praying I was doing, I didn't feel helpless in the face of these needs. By acknowledging God's love and by expressing the tenderness He gives us, His children, I found I could help bring hope to the individuals I knew in simple ways. And I continued to affirm the spiritual facts about all of God's creation. For example, a change in my work schedule freed me to visit more often the woman who was alone. The ``mothering'' she seemed to need included my listening, as well as sharing ideas about God's care that I was finding helpful. Gradually she saw more in her life and her home to be happy about.
These are small ways of helping. But even when the needs seem larger, we can each make a difference. By praying to know our Father-Mother God better, we are better able to bring comfort, help, and healing to all mankind.