In the wake of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the world has heard, seen, and read numerous tributes to her, on radio and television and in news publications.
Many of these have been tastefully presented. But it is easy to feel surfeited with repetition, especially of details of the accident and of speculation as to who is to blame.
I was eager to see how this newspaper would handle the subject. And when I read the first issue after her death, I felt that this sad event was dealt with in a dignified and balanced way. I was also pleased to see that the next issue contained a moving tribute from a man who had recently accompanied Diana on her trip to Bosnia to visit victims of land mine explosions. It included the heartfelt letter of thanks Diana had written to him (Sept. 3, p. 19).
Shortly after this, I heard someone reading several accounts from the Bible, of people who had been successful in cutting through class, racial, religious, ethnic, and other divisions to reach people in need. There was the Apostle Peter, a Jew, who bore the message to the Roman centurion Cornelius that "God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). There was Christ Jesus, who spoke with a Samaritan woman at a well, right in the face of the taunt that "the Jews [had] no dealings with the Samaritans" (John 4:9). And again there was Jesus, reaching out to touch a leper who had asked to be healed-a man who in that society was considered unclean, untouchable (see Mark 1:40-45).
Those writing about Diana's special ability to cut through barriers and communicate effectively with those of all ages and backgrounds and needs have described this ability as a rare personal gift, almost a kind of magic. But while listening to those Bible stories, I realized that this ability is something that actually goes far deeper than anything personal. It was not personal gifts or magic that reached others through Jesus, or through Peter, or even through Diana. What people were feeling through the love they expressed was the touch of the Christ, God's message of love to mankind. Christ reveals the spiritual nature we each have as the very expression of God.
Jesus, the Son of God, lived this Christly nature so fully that he is also called Jesus the Christ and Christ Jesus. As a title, Christ belongs to Jesus exclusively. But the the divine nature that Christ reveals was by no means confined to Jesus. Peter, too, was expressing man's inherently pure, Godlike nature, not only by breaking down barriers in communication with Cornelius, but in remarkable physical healing that he brought.
I believe that whether she herself would have defined it this way or not, it was this same Christ-revealed nature that Diana was expressing and that brought a healing touch to so many she came in contact with. According to the article referred to earlier, a Cambodian woman who had lost a leg to a land mine said that, after meeting Diana, she herself felt like a princess.
It is the pure spirituality in each one of us that enables us to care for others, reach out to them, communicate effectively, and perceive something essential: the true, spiritual nature of each person we meet or hold in thought is invulnerable to evil. This perception, of course, goes way beyond outward appearances, which are so often anything but Christlike. But underneath the most unpromising exteriors there's a jewel waiting to be discovered-the expression of God. And those who express impartial, universal, Christly love make a big contribution to discovering this jewel and letting more of it shine forth. Then others can say with that Cambodian woman, "I now feel like a princess" (or a prince).
Behind such a remarkable ability to care and to communicate and to uplift as Diana expressed, there is something that transcends the human. This is the ever-present, Christlike nature that is of God. We can rejoice that the healing touch of this nature can never actually be lost, even when the person expressing it is taken from us.
All that God gives, He continues to give. Forever. Therefore, we always have it. No tragedy can ever take it from us. And what God gives must continue to find its expression in practical and beautiful ways that break down barriers and satisfy human needs. Ways that heal. This must bring to light more of the good and perfect nature of everyone.