As summer drew to an end, I was enjoying a brief visit from my 13-year-old granddaughter Mathilde. She had traveled with friends and family over the summer break while her older sister, Henriette, was taking an even more adventurous trip on her own overseas.
The phone rang one evening, and it was Mathilde's mother, reporting that Henriette had been robbed of her purse containing tickets, identity and credit cards, her last remaining supply of money, and other valuables. She'd found herself stranded without a franc in a remote part of France.
With the aid of police, she was able to contact a relative on the other side of France, and then to resume her journey, arriving home safe and sound some days later.
My reaction to this news was immediate and resulted in this letter:
As soon as I heard the news that you had been robbed, everything within me rose in rebellion - and Mathilde will confirm that I outwardly proclaimed, "I am not accepting this as true." This needs praying about. It simply is NOT right, and even though it seems to be all over and done with, it is not too late to bring prayer to bear, so that is what this letter is all about.
"We live in an age of Love's divine adventure to be All-in-all" [Editor's note: this sentence was written by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science]. Heard that before? Of course. It was the thought that was prominent in my daily prayer for you and your companions during your wonderful adventures overseas, and it has become one of my constant companions ever since.
But what does All-in-all mean?
Let's start with All. This means God, namely Life, Truth, Love, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Principle. God is expressed in all good, including honesty, love, kindness, peace, harmony, good neighborliness, truthfulness. And I am sure we could add thousands more.
So All-in-all means that these spiritual qualities constitute our very being and cannot be invaded or diminished. They remain with us at all times.
Any invasion of that state of harmony is simply an evil suggestion, just as Jesus was tempted by the devil on three occasions - look at Matthew 4:1-11. These thoughts are not to be tolerated as a real threat to our well-being but dismissed, just as Jesus kicked them out when he said, "Get thee hence, Satan."
We must mentally resist devilish suggestions that any gain or benefit can come to people by stealing. These thoughts must be denied any reality.
Some religious teaching advocates loving one's neighbor, but also allows hating one's enemy. Jesus demanded so much more in the Sermon on the Mount (look in Matthew, in Chapters 5-7), when he said we must not only love our neighbors as ourselves but love our enemies as well.
That seems extremely difficult to do, and before you can have any success, you simply have to see that the person you're dealing with is not really a sinful mortal but the image and likeness of God, the one I am. And it is that identity that you can pour out your love for, and embrace spiritually, and not come down to the mortal level of believing.
I've seen how understanding this produces most wonderful effects in surprising ways, and in my view it's not too late to pray along these lines, which I have been doing. While I can promise you nothing, if you would like me to continue, it should be with your willing cooperation. It is up to you, so feel free and let us have a word.
Since I am sure you will have made the necessary and practical contacts with the proper human authorities, this would now mean appealing to a higher, all-powerful authority.
Lots of love,
You can imagine my joy when Henriette called some days later. Whoever had stolen her purse had helped themselves to a very small amount of loose change, but had been honorable enough to post the purse, with its contents otherwise intact, in a public mailbox, where it found its way back to the police. Everything was recovered.
So it all goes to show that it is never too late to pray.