Almost everyone has had at least one woman in his or her life who has made a difference. A mother, an aunt, a sister, a teacher. The theme of National Women's History Month this year is "women of courage and vision," and March is designated as a time to celebrate those women's contributions.
So many have done so much. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked most of their lives for women's suffrage; Mary Baker Eddy discovered a system of Christian healing and founded this newspaper "to injure no man, but to bless all mankind"; Rosa Parks's refusing to move to the back of the bus forwarded the civil rights movement; and Rachel Carson's research and book "Silent Spring" sounded an alert on water pollution.
There are so many women to honor - women whose contributions have touched every aspect of life, making it freer, safer, more joyous, and more rewarding.
I've also been thinking about the women of courage and vision who have been part of my personal history. I'm grateful for my friend Rose. Her life isn't recorded in any book, but she helped me recognize my own worth and value as an individual. I'm also grateful for Jerry, who often awakened me to important ideas in the Bible that subsequently healed me. And for Bonnie. We've been pursuing similar goals for a long time, and her life has been a support to mine.
Bonnie had an experience some years back that has been an inspiration to me. At the beginning of the third trimester of her pregnancy, she went for a checkup. The doctor discovered an infection that he feared could be dangerous for the baby at birth.
Bonnie could have just gone the conventional antibiotics route. But spiritual healing had been effective for her and her other two children in many situations and had given them a confidence in God's presence and power that meant a lot to them. So she asked a Christian Science practitioner to pray for her.
Bonnie wasn't afraid, and she told the doctor she was going to pray for healing. He agreed to give her time to pray before giving her any drugs. Her husband agreed, too, because he'd seen spiritual healing work for her and their children. But he also asked her to take the antibiotics if the infection wasn't healed by the next exam, and she said she would.
To me, Bonnie was an example of courage and vision during this time. From her study of the Bible, she was sure that God was her Father and the child's Father, and that He would take care of them both. The Bible says, "God is love" (I John 4:8). No qualification or limitation. Bonnie said she just "felt wrapped in God's love" and so she could let the fear go. Her strong trust in God's care gave her confidence that she would be healed.
During the month before her next checkup, Bonnie told me, she thought a lot about purity and innocence. She knew these qualities belonged to her and the baby because God made them that way. She based this on the Bible record that God made us in His image and likeness. God is Spirit, and Spirit's creation is spiritual and pure. That's how God knows each of us. It's the reality of our nature, no matter how much it looks like we're material and vulnerable to impurities.
Bonnie knew that an important part of prayer was to think and act the way God made her. She said, "I needed to reflect purity and innocence in my life." So during that time she didn't let herself get irritated or caught up in resentment. "I was trying to love everyone, not just pray for myself and the baby," she said.
When it was time for her next checkup, she felt happy and peaceful. When her doctor called with the test results, he told her that everything was fine. She didn't have the infection anymore.
Her baby girl was healthy and beautiful, and still is almost 15 years later.
Bonnie's faith strengthened me. Each woman's good accomplishments (and each man's too, of course) add to the sum of good expressed in the world. Whether that contribution is nationally known, or known only in one individual's heart, it makes a difference.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor