As a teenager, I bragged shamelessly about the afternoon the queen came to visit. Truthfully, she didn't actually stop at our house. But she did drive close by. And when she, along with her husband, King George VI, and their daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, got out of the car to have tea at a retirement village about 100 yards from our front gate, she paused long enough to offer a smile and a nod - in my direction!
I believed that royal smile was all for me. And I've treasured it for decades. I remember its warmth, its depth, its simple acknowledgment of an incredulous lad to whom it meant more than steak pies, ice cream, and cricket, combined.
Today that visitor, the Queen Mother, will probably be smiling for hours as she celebrates her 100th birthday, after weeks of happy partying among guests, including the press, who scarcely realize how little they really know her. She hasn't given an interview in over 75 years.
It would seem that the Queen Mother is prepared to risk speculation in the papers, mischievous cartoonists, and even idle gossip, to preserve her right to privacy. She has a keen sense of duty, tireless energy, and a firm sense of monarchical tradition. She knows who she is, and she isn't pandering to anyone's need or presumed right to know more.
People all over the world seem to love her. An informal poll of my American friends produced words like gracious, poised, sparkling, confident, attractive, appealing. It calls to mind the Psalmist's description of royalty, in which he observed that "the king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold" (Ps. 45:13).
How many of us feel "glorious within"? And how many of us know who we truly are?
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, often pondered this last question, and concluded that we each have, without question, a changeless being. She spoke generically of "man" (which includes every woman and child and man) as "spiritual and perfect," and wrote, "Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique." She explained that each is "the reflection of God, or Mind, and therefore is eternal" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 475).
Because men and women are the perfect ideas of a perfect creator, they are never born, never die, never need to count the years or add candles to a cake. But it is up to us to recognize and celebrate these reassuring facts on a daily basis.
According to the Bible, God has not only created us in His image, but loves and cares for us so much that He has engraved us on the palms of His hands (see Isa. 49:16). He has "called [us] in righteousness" and has promised, "I ... will hold thine hand, and will keep thee" (Isa. 42:6). The prophet Jeremiah heard God saying, "Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee" (Jer. 31:3).
What the Queen Mother has for breakfast or watches on television is not really any concern of ours. The media have put celebrities, including the British Royal Family, in the limelight and declared them fair game. And yet, nobody's life is really governed by what other people think. It's only what God knows about each one of us that has any actual importance. And what He knows is only good. The more we see others in this light, the less room there will be for unwarranted criticism, comparison, or speculation.
As His perfect idea, we are all given graciousness, poise, and confidence, and we attract into our lives all kinds of people with whom to share the love that comes from God.
God made us only "glorious within." And He has been caring for us far longer than 100 years. In His/Her eyes we are balanced, unselfish, compassionate, healthy, secure - and, like the Queen Mother, in possession of an irresistible smile.
Thou shalt also be a
crown of glory in the
hand of the Lord, and
a royal diadem in the
hand of thy God.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society