In a grand way

I'LL never forget the grand way in which my mom responded to trying encounters. Once, for example, a neighbor who had for many years allowed our family to use part of the vacant lot between our houses for our garden, decided suddenly that he no longer wanted anyone using his lot. It was midsummer. Mom's garden bulged with needed vegetables. The neighbor told Mom that he would be building a fence that next week, but that she was welcome to take what produce she could from the garden over the weekend. After that, he would prefer that we respect his fence! I remember my mother's gracious response. She thanked our neighbor for the years of happy gardening she'd had, then spent a weekend harvesting what she could. She took special care to weed the garden from top to bottom, knowing that it would be ready for our neighbor's use. Often, it requires much less disappointment than this to bring out pettiness among neighbors or work associates or family members. At times, it's almost as if pettiness were seeking an excuse--however small--to mar the day. How could my mom respond so grandly? Years later I understood that it was her deep love for God and an unfaltering respect for herself as a child of God that made her triumphant. A sincere love for God, like my mother's, has its roots in the fact that God is Love itself. ``We love him, because he first loved us'' 1 is one of the many powerful Biblical statements that describe God's great love for man. Of course, it is not a bunch of feuding mortals, constantly reacting to one another in anger and irritation, that make up the family created by divine Love. God is perfect Love; and man, God's loved and cherished creation, mirrors in total the perfection of God's love. Prayer is the means by which everyone can understand more clearly his or her own true nature as the image of God. That desire in us to respond sincerely with joy and grandness in situations inviting pettiness, needs the strength and understanding that come through prayer. The understanding of God and of ourselves as His offspring makes the grand response natural and brings triumph for everyone. Prayer helps place before our thought that true, spiritual model of ourselves. Because that model is spiritual--not mortal or biological--it includes such qualities as control, poise, grace, and love, rather than their opposites. Regular daily prayer reinforces our understanding that such spiritual elements rightfully govern our thoughts and actions. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science and founder of this newspaper, says: ``We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives. Let unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love--the kingdom of heaven--reign within us, and sin, disease, and death will diminish until they finally disappear.'' 2 Could anyone not feel respect for himself when he allows mercy, goodness, justice, and unselfishness to govern his heart? Such respect is spiritual in its origin. It is not something one feels through identifying himself as a physical personality in a certain niche. It is not something that develops simply because of what someone achieves--though worthy achievements may help us see more clearly our true nature and capacities. Rather, it is an outcome of expressing more of the divine nature, whatever th e circumstances. It's a result of being who we really are as God's likeness. ``Man is the noblest work of God, / His beauty, power and grace, / Immortal,'' 3 a hymn assures us. Such self-respect can change dramatically the way in which we respond to daily encounters. Things that might have seemed offensive grow harmless. Caustic remarks lose all sting. A gracious, bighearted response replaces angry reaction. And why? Not because we want to please another person or because we want to gain the upper hand (by making someone else appear foolish or wrong by our ``coolheadedness''). Instead, our grand response is something we can't help making because of the treasure of self-resp ect we find in our love for God and in an understanding of His love for us. 1 I John 4:19. 2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 248. 3 Christian Science Hymnal, No. 51.

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