"Now remember, son, you're wrapped up in Love!" My wife was finishing her telephone conversation with our son, who was to be shipped out to Iraq in the morning.
All of us with loved ones who are serving their country abroad, possibly in harm's way, have the same ambivalence, I'm sure, as we do. We love our son and are proud of him. We want him to grow in confidence and integrity. In his chosen career as a military policeman in the US Marine Corps, we know that these testing times will increase his stature as an officer and as a man. At the same time we want no harm to come to him. Our son's buddy, a tank commander, lost one of his men in a particularly vicious firefight, so the threat of danger seems very real to us, so far from the scene.
But the strong tie of family and friends isn't in itself enough to shield our loved ones, wherever they are, from harm. While my wife loves our son deeply, the Love she was talking about with him was not just mother-love, but a higher concept - it is God Himself. The Bible points out, "God is love," (I John 4:8), not just that God is loving or lovable, but that God is Love itself. This infinite Love fills all space; it is powerful enough to eliminate all hate, fear, and resentment. This Love certainly wraps up our son in its infinitude.
But not just our son. All humanity is wrapped up in this Love. No matter what we think about US involvement in Iraq, we have a humane duty to pray for all who are there - whether they are coalition military, the remnants of Saddam loyalists, Iraqi private citizens, or the thousands of combatants with other citizenships. We need to pray for those caught up in fractious Afghanistan, as well as other global hot spots: Burundi, Ivory Coast, Chechnya. It is small-minded to think that God chooses sides. If God is truly Love, that Love must be infinite, bathing us all in Love just as the sun equally bathes all the flowers and trees in the park.
A few years ago, I had a grant to teach for a year in a university in the Middle East. On our way home, we decided to stop in Jerusalem. One beautiful day we walked the walls of the Old City, and realized that, in the late afternoon, we were near a spot that our guidebook said could have been the famous "upper room" mentioned in the Bible, where Jesus and his disciples ate the passover before the crucifixion. It appeared that other tourists also wanted to see the room, but seemed to be cowering on the sidewalk.
When we got closer, we saw that a group of young Palestinian men was gathered near the doorway. Since the Intifada, the Palestinian resistance against Israeli authority, had just begun, I felt an atmosphere of fear and confrontation right there. I began to pray to see God's impartial and infinite goodness, where Love had to be supreme.
I guess without considering my actions, I walked up to them and greeted them in my fractured Arabic. They smiled and introduced themselves. I responded that I was teaching in a nearby country. "O teacher," the group's spokesman said, "please teach us. Our universities are closed; we are learning nothing. Whatever you can, please teach us."
The atmosphere became jovial, and we spent several very pleasant minutes with them. The other tourists went in, and eventually we also saw the reputed "upper room." But what sticks in my memory are the few happy moments we spent with these young men. The impartial warmth of Love had broken all barriers, and we experienced a profound brotherhood that still is important to me.
Brotherhood and sisterhood are the inevitable result of infinite Love in action. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, saw this clearly when she wrote in her major work, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "It should be thoroughly understood that all men have one Mind, one God and Father, one Life, Truth, and Love. Mankind will become perfect in proportion as this fact becomes apparent, war will cease and the true brotherhood of man will be established" (pg. 467).
This brotherhood transcends ethnicity and language, citizenship and ideology. It wraps us all in one precious family where God is the head, and all of us are safe.