CHRISTMAS would be different this year, and for the first time in my life I wasn't looking forward to it. The trees, the lights, the carols, all the usual yuletide reminders, didn't cheer me. It was my first Christmas Eve without family and, worst of all, a special friend was going to be with his family instead of with me. I felt deserted. Then a booklet called Christian Science Quarterly -- Bible Lessons caught my attention. I had picked it up during the summer but had laid it aside thinking I wouldn't enjoy reading it. The Quarterly contains lessons consisting of passages from the Bible and from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
I wasn't a Christian Scientist at the time or a Bible reader, but I flipped through the pages of the Quarterly searching for an appealing lesson title. There it was -- ``LOVE''! That was the subject for me. The lesson wasn't what I expected. What was this all about? It was foreign to my concept of love, which usually required a particular favored individual to supply happiness. And where was the word romance? It never appeared.
The term Love was presented in the lesson title and in many of the references as a synonym for God. ``God is love,'' we read in I John; ``and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.'' Since I wasn't familiar with Scripture, that statement came as a new discovery for me. Until I became absorbed in the lesson on Love, I was ignorant about God as divine Love, Spirit, and of man's true being as the spiritual image of Love.
Christian Science teaches, in harmony with the Bible, that since divine Love is omnipresent, man in God's image and likeness can never be separated from Love. No matter where we are, then, even if alone or in a difficult, distant environment, divine Love is present. And we can become conscious of Love's presence through prayer, through humble receptivity to the one divine Mind, which is Love. We can become conscious of our God-given satisfaction and safety as Love's image. Then any sense of loneliness will diminish and disappear.
By the time I had finished reading the Bible Lesson, I wasn't just thinking about ``my Christmas Eve'' but rather the world's Christmas Eve and its spiritual significance. When I began seeing things from a spiritual standpoint instead of from a limited, material basis, the holiday took on a broader, deeper meaning.
I was truly glad my friend could be with his family. And I was glad for them too. I no longer felt lonely or depressed, knowing I was in the presence of divine Love and that everyone else was too. Wasn't this cause for celebration?
It was still Christmas Eve when the telephone rang. My friend wished me a merry Christmas and invited me to spend Christmas Day with him and his family. Good news. Even better, I was happy long before he called as a result of what I was learning about God.
Mrs. Eddy writes: ``I celebrate Christmas with my soul, my spiritual sense, and so commemorate the entrance into human understanding of the Christ conceived of Spirit, of God and not of a woman -- as the birth of Truth, the dawn of divine Love breaking upon the gloom of matter and evil with the glory of infinite being.''
What's in store for you this Christmas? Whether you observe it with family and friends or alone, it can be a time of spiritual growth, of coming to see more clearly the reality of Love's presence and its healing power, the reality that Jesus illustrated so vividly for us all.