The death of a close friend is one of the most challenging experiences there is. Not long ago, despite the best efforts of many people involved, a dear friend of mine died.
I listened quietly, and out of the stillness of tender listening came this powerful truth: Nothing is ever lost; there is never any good effort wasted, no good deed done in vain, no prayerful effort without some effect. Nothing good is ever lost!
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, wrote: "The testimony of the corporeal senses cannot inform us what is real and what is delusive, but the revelations of Christian Science unlock the treasures of Truth" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 70).
Our experiences rely so much on the testimony of the physical senses, but my intuition tells me that there is more. And this inner guide tells me that we are more than figures moving on a straight line with beginning and end. It also impels me to accept that the good and love we share with one another are eternal. They do not start with us, really, nor do they end with us.
I am convinced that the prayers with which we accompany a friend to the last point on earth are not wasted - prayers that continue to accompany a friend, before that friend, symbolically speaking, leaves the harbor with the boat and takes off to disappear and finally vanish from our sight. No love we have shed on our friends, those we care about and yearn to see healthy and protected, is ever lost. Because of this love, we are better people and those we love are empowered by it.
We are doing others a shining favor in continuing to cherish their good qualities and by helping others who are still here. To me this is the greatest lesson of all: to love more and more deeply, to get to know a love that reaches into the realm of Spirit - a love that ultimately overcomes death.
There's a story in the Bible that hints at this fundamental point: We are all travelers, and we can accompany each other by shedding love on each other without measure. It's the story about the good Samaritan who cares unselfishly for his fellow man, this victim of crime, but continues his own journey. It illustrates to me that even a friend who is unknown to us is a friend.
This story is embedded within a dialogue between Jesus and "a certain lawyer." The lawyer had asked what he needed to do in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus, having referred him to the law, asked the man to answer his own question. The lawyer replied, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself" Jesus' response is straightforward and clear: "Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live" (Luke 10:25-28).
For living eternally - nothing is said about death in this discourse - love for God and man are the only prerequisites. By loving God - Life, Truth, and Love - and by sharing this Life, Truth, and Love within our own experience with everybody, including ourselves, means to save ourselves, to really live, to be. Who is saying that this unselfishness expressed in tireless care and attentive love for someone in need is not helping to save this dear one even if we don't see it right away?
The Samaritan and the Jew were travel companions in different experiences but were joined together for a tender moment in time. Jesus brought out that this traveling and being together, journeying on, yet still caring and sharing, leads toward eternal Life; it is the essence of Life.
Likewise, we - and our helpful thoughts resting on each other - transform our friendships and affections and help bring them to a higher level. And graceful unselfishness will be leading the way.