HOW often have we heard, even said-''If only I were somewhere else.'' Wherever they are, people want to be where they belong. To feel in their right place. Simply put, people long to feel at home.
And this isn't a new desire, of course. The Jews at the time of Christ Jesus were looking for freedom from occupying Roman powers, looking for a Saviour to restore their own sense of place and identity. Christ Jesus taught that God, the Father of all, was Spirit and ever present. And he showed that we are always in God's kingdom -- right where we belong. He also told his hearers, as Luke's Gospel records: ''The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there ! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you'' (17:20, 21).
The revolutionary importance of Jesus' teachings is that they show us that God is not distant or out of touch with His family. So we don't have to be someplace else or wait for another time to be where we belong. Understanding Jesus' assurance that the kingdom of God is within, we have a secure spiritual foundation that enables us to improve our sense of place, to transform our environment and ourselves.
This transformation takes place as we learn more of our inheritance as God's spiritual child. Each of us has a place, our own place, as the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, points out in her book Retrospection and Introspection: ''Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity'' (p. 70).
I love how the ninety-first Psalm expresses the peace that accompanies being in the ''right'' place. The first verse sets the scene: ''He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.'' Very often the hardest thing is to look within, to look where we are. The tendency to look all around instead is the one referred to by Jesus as ''lo here! or, lo there!'' We humanly feel that we must do something or go somewhere else as quickly as possible. But all
this to and fro won't bring us any closer to ''the secret place of the most High,'' where we already dwell!
Not long ago, I found a better place by gaining a clearer sense of God's presence. God is All, the Bible teaches, as Jesus proved so fully. This means that God is always with us, and no other force can be present, for God is infinite Spirit. And as God's child, then, each of us is always in God's presence.
I had been praying about where I should be working. Satisfying as my job was, I felt it was time to move on. Although I had no clear perception of what else to do or where else to go, I had a peaceful certainty that I would be where I needed to be. The opening line of a poem by Mrs. Eddy became my prayer: ''Shepherd, show me how to go'' (Poems, p. 14). The powerful and significant word for me was how, not where. I didn't need to find another place in order to express the qualities already inhere nt in my real nature as God's child.
I learned a valuable lesson in being, quite literally, in the right place. Along with a group of fellow teachers, I had agreed to give a presentation about our school to an audience of interested parents. The meeting was in a nearby town unfamiliar to me, but I had in my mind a map of where I was going. Soon I found myself taking a number of wrong turnings and ended at a point that I recognized having seen before-some time back. I was lost and, what was worse, I was totally disoriented. I knew that
it was certainly right to be at the meeting, and to be there on time, but where was there? As I headed out of town a second time, I remembered how I had been praying to follow my Shepherd. It now seemed right to stop where I was and to ask someone the whereabouts of the particular street I was looking for. It was very wet, and no one was around when I climbed out of the car. But I didn't need to look for anyone. There, a few feet from me, was a sign giving the name of the street I had been trying so h ard to find!
I was on time and, as you can imagine, grateful to be there. Indeed, I was in awe of the simplicity and pinpoint accuracy of being in the right place. And I am appreciating more of that lesson, especially since I have moved on in my work, as well!