A friend and I always loved exchanging grandchildren stories. One of hers was our favorite. Her much loved granddaughter said to her one day: "Don't say you are baby-sitting me. Say we are hanging out together."
Behind that request, I felt, was a profound truth regarding human relationships and our attitudes toward them. Even for parents of young children, the best attitude is one of sharing inspired moments. No one likes to be talked down to or "baby-sat."
This grandmother friend of mine is someone I've loved hanging out with, and we've enjoyed sharing our thoughts with each other. But because she was more experienced in our profession, I especially appreciated the respect I felt from her. She never acted as if she had superior knowledge, but would consider our conversations more as reasoning together. In fact, she often expressed deep appreciation for some of my insights.
Her humility, I believe, was inspired by her study of and deep love for the life of Jesus. Though many consider him to be the ideal teacher, he didn't claim exclusive authority for the many truths he uttered and the healing acts he accomplished. "I can of mine own self do nothing," he humbly acknowledged, and explained that he was doing the will of his Father (see John 5:30).
And when his disciples asked him how to pray, he directed their thought to "Our Father," claiming no special heritage for himself.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, also found a solid reason for humility and respect of others. She wrote in the textbook of Christian Science, "It should be thoroughly understood that all men have one Mind, one God and Father, one Life, Truth, and Love" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 467).
That statement doesn't advocate ignoring differences of age, experience, and culture, but offers an effective tool for cutting through such differences and enabling us to understand and respect one another.
Knowing that my friend and I had one Father, God, was a great comfort to me when she passed on recently. Our conversations had never been based solely on her gaining ideas from God and then imparting them to me. We both had been, and were now, learning of God's goodness and sharing those ideas with each other. And since God is still her Father and mine, we both are finding those ideas to be true.
It's so important to reject the supposition that someone we loved and shared ideas with has left us bereaved. While I don't pretend to know what happens after individuals have left this human experience, I do know that the one God is still their source of knowing, as it is for the rest of us.
That awareness of our oneness with God, the Father, and necessarily our oneness with one another, tells me that my friend and I have an eternal relationship. And our relationship with one another may rightly be considered as one of equals.
As I looked at our friendship this way, I lost the grief of thinking I had lost a mentor, but recognized and valued more fully our rightful relationship as daughters of the one Father-Mother.
Because neither one of us assumed the role of having to inform and control each other, I can, as my memory reveals many of our loved conversations, feel in a very real way that we are still hanging out together.
Where God is we can meet,
and where God is
we can never part.
Mary Baker Eddy