JESSICA went back to her mother last week, after spending five months with her father. She's eight years old. Along with millions of other children, she's the child of divorced parents.
Since Jessica's father is my son, and I'm his neighbor, I was very much involved with her this past five months. And Jessica's poignant ''I want to be with both of you!'' when she had to leave one parent to be with the other set me to thinking even more deeply about what Christian Science teaches us.
I needed to see what I could do to help in a situation like this. As I prayed, I began to see that in reality there can be no such thing as a broken home for the child who dwells in an atmosphere of spiritual love-- of unfragmented, uninterrupted tenderness.
At first I thought it's up to all of us whose lives touch these dear ones--whether we be parents, grandparents, or whoever else--to provide this continuity of love. And to a degree, of course, it is. But our efforts to love are consistently successful only when we realize that these children--that all of us--dwell in God, who is unchanging, divine Love. How do we accomplish this? We can start by truly loving God, who created the real, spiritual being of us all; and then by making a special effort to love each other, just as He loves us.
We read in the Bible, in First John, ''If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. . . . And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him'' (4:12, 16). So that's where Jessie ''dwells,'' I reassure myself. She lives consistently, all the time, in God's love, no matter where she happens to be geographically. And one thing I can do to help her feel secure in this spiritual dwelling place is to keep reminding her, in all sorts of ways, that Love is where she lives. I can also open up my heart more fully to her mother. If I am sincere in loving God, I must be equally sincere in loving His children--all of them--and in seeing only the good in them, and cherishing it. All of God's children live in His love.
In reality man is never displaced, unsettled, fruitlessly searching. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, tenderly tells us in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ''Pilgrim on earth, thy home is heaven; stranger, thou art the guest of God'' (p. 254). What more loving, harmonious home could anybody have than heaven!
Because their parents are divorced, children are often expected to behave in angry, antisocial ways. Well, this doesn't have to be! God is never divorced from His children, and everyone who loves children can refuse to accept such a decree--such a label. Instead we can help children understand what great love God has for them. There's no anger mixed in with God's love, and there doesn't need to be any anger in His children.
Helping children feel God's love may take patience. In fact, I've had to shore up my own patience and spiritual strength over the past five months. I was always turning to the Bible, especially this passage from Ephesians: ''For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, . . . that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God'' (3:14, 1619).
These verses remind me that it is the ''fulness of God'' that enables me to love my granddaughter as God loves her, seeing her in all the sweetness of her real being. Whenever I think of her I know that in reality she isn't the victim of a broken home at all, because, whether she is next door or far away from where I am, her real home is heaven, and that's where she always is--right here on earth.