`Braking' for each other

HEEDLESS, the little dog padded into the street. Traffic stopped at once until the dog had gotten back on the sidewalk. I was touched by the love shown so naturally toward that little dog by the drivers, who only moments before had been intent on where they were going. I found myself asking, ``Do I show that same love and patience when another person wanders into the path of my day?''

A few hours later a neighbor phoned. As we talked, he unexpectedly said something accusatory. I remembered the little dog and put on my mental ``brakes'' to halt any ``collision'' with my neighbor. I felt compassion and answered gently. His attitude quickly softened.

Much more was at work here than the memory of a dog in a busy street. In those few seconds on the telephone, I prayed to be obedient to God's word of love. An Old Testament writer records, ``Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.''1 Christ Jesus' rule for living, so valuable it is called golden, puts it this way: ``All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.''2

In my prayer I affirmed that God is Love, as the Bible teaches, and that this spiritual fact is an ever-present law of God's creation, ruling out anger and hate. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``Love has no sense of hatred.'' And she says, ``Truth, Life, and Love are a law of annihilation to everything unlike themselves, because they declare nothing except God.''3

The love that we derive from God doesn't come and go depending on whether we're faced with a cuddly dog, which might seem easy to love, or with a gruff neighbor, who may not seem lovable. The ability to love is as constant and unlimited as its source, divine Love. Unchanging love is a permanent quality of man's spiritual identity -- our true nature.

This spiritual view challenges the notion that love is elusive, a fragile, finite commodity external to us, for which we must struggle. Man, as God's spiritual offspring, is the very expression of omnipotent Love, governed only by God, not by circumstance, personalities, pressure. It's natural, then -- in fact, inevitable -- for us to express love and respond to love. A willingness to live the best that we can now, in harmony with the Golden Rule, brings a growing understanding of the omnipresence of divine Love, and with it an expanded capacity to care about our neighbor.

And, in a desire to follow Christ's command more fully, I've been learning to ``brake,'' too, for people who show up in my day nowhere else but in idle thoughts. If I catch myself thinking unkindly about someone, perhaps mulling over past experiences, I claim my God-given right to love. As I persist in acknowledging the authority of Christly love, my outlook is purified. I feel an appreciation for the other person, which erases the quarrelsome ruminating.

Mrs. Eddy writes, ``True prayer is not asking God for love; it is learning to love, and to include all mankind in one affection.''4 Why not start with the very next person to cross your path?

1Leviticus 19:18. 2Matthew 7:12. 3Science and Health, p. 243. 4No and Yes, p. 39.

You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him....If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? I John 4:16,20

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