A WOMAN who lives alone found herself suddenly overcome by illness and nausea. She found a spot to be comfortable right where she was and got tucked in with a blanket and pillow. Then she began to pray.
She thought particularly about a statement from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, that she had been studying not long before. The passage reads, ''Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you'' (p. 571). She saw that this illness was a form of impersonal challenge to God's, divine Love's, allness, and she prayed to feel completely enveloped in God's loving embrace, even as she was warmly tucked into the blanket that covered her.
The ''panoply of Love'' might be likened to that blanket, and the ''four corners'' of that spiritually protective covering could be seen as being loved, lovable, lovely, and loving. These four aspects of the nature of God, Love, are vital. To leave one of them out would be like leaving one of the sides of the blanket untucked. As God's, Love's, reflection, or image and likeness, man must include each of them.
Continuing to pray, the woman saw that we are each, first of all, dearly loved by God. As His very offspring we are precious and dear to our Father-Mother. Our every need is tended to by God, who knows us as His spiritual idea. God is infinite Mind, and we are held in the eternal unfoldment of Mind's intelligence, goodness, harmony, and peace. We feel forever assured and comforted by His solicitude.
Everything about us as God's spiritual idea is lovable. We are not subject to being a mortal personality made up of good and bad traits. We are not a chemical compound whose chemistry doesn't mix with others' chemistry. Every element of our being is spiritual, and so is appreciable as altogether good. As the Bible puts it in Genesis, ''And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good'' (1:31). We are God's own expression, or manifestation, and God Himself delights in us and approves our perfection.
Since we are not made of matter, but are spiritual, the very radiance of Love, we are altogether lovely. There can be no deformity, ugliness, imbalance, disease, or defects to mar our immortal radiance.
A poem by Mrs. Eddy refers to Christ in these words: ''Thou gentle beam of living Love, / And deathless Life!'' (Poems, p. 29). How weightless, glorious, pure, and beautiful is sun streaming through a window. A beam of spiritual light must be even more lovely, and we each reflect this glorious radiance.
Finally, we are each so naturally the expression of all that is loving. No taint of fear touches our being. No competition, criticism, comparison, guilt, shame, or sin separates us from Love. What could possibly shine as our spiritual nature but love? This love is not caused by what is out there to be loved, any more than sunshine is caused by what needs shining on. It just shines. So we shine as the expression of our creator, God, and our love benefits all those around us.
The woman who had felt ill, slept peacefully that night, feeling utterly held in Love's loving. When she woke in the morning, she was perfectly well and went on to have a full and busy day at her job.
''To infinite, ever-present Love, all is Love,'' Mrs. Eddy points out in Science and Health, ''and there is no error, no sin, sickness, nor death'' (p. 567). No wonder this healing occurred. Love had utterly displaced the darkness of sickness, and there was nothing left to feel but the comfort of divine Love.
This ever-present panoply is God's gift of Love to each of us. No one is ever outside of it. Nothing can ever separate us from it. Realizing this, we can snuggle deeply into its comfort, being sure that each corner is tucked in.
Healing through prayer is explored in more detail in a weekly magazine, the Christian Science Sentinel.