It may seem a bit like effrontery on my part to send you a letter, as I am no longer living in England, but I remain one of your subjects and still feel part of the family, so to speak.
I feel impelled to join the millions of others who will be thinking of you, and praying with you, as you walk into St. Paul's Cathedral for Tuesday's Service of Thanksgiving one of the ceremonies marking your 50th year as Queen. I know you'll be praying, because you've made it so clear over the years how important God is to you.
For 49 years I have crouched over shortwave radios in six countries to hear you speak on the World Service of the BBC. I have never missed your annual broadcast, and will be at my radio for your 50th.
I first heard you on my grandfather's primitive old Pilot radio. It was in a huge wooden cabinet, and I had to hold up the antenna so that we could get better reception and not miss a single word. Now I listen on a sleek, pocket-sized Sony.
When they played "God Save the Queen," my grandfather, who always dressed up to listen to you, would stand to attention, wherever he was. Even you would have laughed.
I'll never forget your message in the millennium year. What especially pleased me was the way you reflected on what you felt lay behind the celebrations the birthday of a man who was destined to change the course of our history, Christ Jesus. This, you said, was the true millennium anniversary.
You said: "For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I ... have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ's words and example."
You said that the true measure of Christ's influence is not only in the lives of the saints but also in the good works quietly done by millions of men and women day in and day out through the centuries.
You observed: "Many will have been inspired by Jesus' simple but powerful teaching: love God and love thy neighbour as thyself in other words, treat others as you would like them to treat you. His great emphasis was to give spirituality a practical purpose.
"Whether we believe in God or not, I think most of us have a sense of the spiritual, that recognition of a deeper meaning and purpose in our lives, and I believe that this sense flourishes despite the pressures of our world."
You reminded us that this spirituality is seen in the teachings of other great faiths. You acknowledged that religion can be divisive, but you pointed out that the Bible, the Koran, and the sacred texts of the Jews and Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs, are all sources of divine inspiration and practical guidance passed down through the generations.
I was glad to know that you feel that way about life, and would probably feel that way even if you weren't Queen.
I well remember a broadcast made by your father. He included some lines by Minnie Louise Haskins, which continue to inspire me:
I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year,
"Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown."
And he replied, "Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way."
You are probably wondering what lies ahead of you. But I suspect you will be reaching for that light, and putting your hand in the hand of God.
Whatever inspires with
wisdom, Truth, or Love be it song, sermon, or Science blesses
the human family with crumbs of
comfort from Christ's table,
feeding the hungry and giving
living waters to the thirsty.
Mary Baker Eddy
(founder of the Monitor)