Some time ago, my stepbrother Reggie joined a group that advocated the overthrow of the local, state, and federal government in the United States and in other countries by the minorities of those countries because of unfairness, dishonesty, and corruption.
A phone call to our dad from a relative alerted us that Reggie was hiding from the authorities. He and other members of this group were wanted for questioning. It took a while, but he was found and was persuaded to stay with us. From the moment he arrived, he and Dad argued over social issues involving the civil rights movement and how Reggie felt that church enslaved black people.
One afternoon after a quarrel, Dad walked out, and Reggie prepared to leave. My mother asked him to sit down and just listen.
She put her arms around him. She told him about how being in the kingdom of God was like being in a mother's arms all the time. In your mother's arms, she said, you feel safe, you feel the warmth of love, and there's not a care to bother you.
She talked with such love and understanding. He pleaded with her to let go; he tried to shout her down. But she held on. She said that this kingdom is here; it is a righteous government, and this government embraces everyone.
After that talk, Reggie was free from the pull toward violence. A few days later, our family took him to the bus station, and he was able to return home.
I remembered that incident recently one night when at about 11:30, the house alarm sounded. I was so scared that someone was breaking in to harm me. My limbs were frozen and my teeth were chattering, but finally I managed to walk to the front of the house and turn off the alarm. I knew it would take a while for the police to arrive. Why is this happening to me, I wondered.
I remembered Reggie's conviction that violence was the answer to the injustices that minorities suffer. And I wondered about the motive of the one who was trying to harm me.
So just as my mother told Reggie about the kingdom of God, I prayed that I and whoever was attempting to enter were both in the ever-present kingdom of God under God's authority, and that we both could feel the divine Mother God's love guiding us that moment. In the book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, describes the spiritual meaning of Mother as God (see pg. 592).
Another thought that came to mind was the 23rd Psalm, which begins, "The Lord is my shepherd." I realized that the only "kingdom" that sheep are aware of is the pasture governed by the shepherd. Each lamb and sheep is cared for in that pasture those that are little or fat, those with a small amount of wool or a lot. Not one is left out of the benefits of that pasture.
I often think of a shepherd as being like a mother. And as sheep respond to a shepherd, a child hearing his mother's voice will turn and go toward that voice.
As my mother held Reggie that night long ago and spoke of the kingdom of God, she felt that this kingdom was ruled by an ever-present Father-Mother Love's embrace. Jesus said that in order to have the right things in life, we need to seek first the kingdom of God (see Matt. 6:33).
Reggie was seeking right things justice, equality, and fair, honest government. He just needed to become aware of how to get these things. And get them he did. He became a productive member of his community. Through a church program, he and others worked to end gang violence.
As for me, my alarm went off again that night, and I prayed my way through the fear with the idea that living in the kingdom of God is like being in a mother's embrace right here, right now. Praying with these ideas removed the image of violence and the fear of future violence from my thought. The police found evidence of tampering on one of the doors. They felt the alarm may have frightened the perpetrator. I've had no trouble since that night.
Just as the shepherd watches over the sheep in the pasture, we are watched over, embraced, and loved by our Mother God.