The memory is still vividly clear of the picture we must have presented as we walked slowly through the hotel lobby late that night. My mother, who had difficulty walking, was clinging to my right arm. With the other hand, I held the hand of our five-year-old daughter, and she held the hand of her two-something brother, who held the string of a pull-toy.
My husband had already registered us, but without parking the car and walking the dog. We had traveled for two days following the spontaneous decision to attend an annual meeting of our worldwide church. We didn't know the area, so we hadn't made hotel reservations and were delighted when the first hotel we approached an old one had a three-room suite that we could afford.
We were disheveled, but our spirits were high, especially the children's; they had never traveled very far from Chicago, now a thousand miles away. The impulsion for the trip was a deep inner feeling that the meeting and the church offered a way for us to engage the world with a healing thrust. This newspaper, which I had read for years without knowing anything about the church or that it was even published by a church, had been available to me during college. It was one of two newspapers that our debate team was allowed to quote. It became more to me, however, than just an accurate news source.
Though I knew little about the church, I felt that what was behind this paper was good and important to all mankind. This value we placed on the Monitor had a lot to do with our making that trip many years ago and meeting with others who, like ourselves, were seeking a way to make a difference in the world.
What was the cause underlying this church? Once in a letter, the Founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, "For the world to understand me in my true light, and life, would do more for our Cause than aught else could" (letter to Edward Kimball, 1893). This cause may define itself in different ways, but essentially it is the cause of uplifting humanity. It is the cause of healing individuals and nations; it is the cause of peace in the world; it is the cause of freedom political, economic, physical, and emotional. It is the cause of fulfilling the potential for good in each of earth's residents.
As the world is learning more of Mrs. Eddy's life and her revelation of spiritual Science, many recognize her cause to be their cause. Readers of this newspaper, which she founded, are likely to be united in the description of its purpose "to injure no man, but to bless all mankind" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 353).
Just as our family was gathered into the blessing of that meeting so many years ago, the whole family of man is included, not only in the blessing of this year's Annual Meeting next week, but also in the near daily gatherings of Monitor readers over the globe.
Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20). I don't take that to mean that he would be personally present, but that Christ, which he represented, will always be with those who gathered together to find spiritual ways to solve intransigent human problems.
In the Christian Science textbook, Mrs. Eddy defines Christ as "the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 583). Obviously, no one religion, or even religion itself, is the exclusive avenue for God to reach earth and the people upon it. No one is ever left out of opportunities to gather in Christ's name.
Whether through physical meetings or the mental gathering together of thinking through current challenges, we can expect Christ to point the way for each one of us to be effective in bringing healing to our world. No one is left out of the work or the reward.
You can listen to a live Web cast of the Annual Meeting of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, at www.annualmeetinglive.com at 10 a.m., Eastern time, on Monday, June 3. This program will also be available later for replay.