A young friend joined the Marines and was sent to Iraq. A few months later, my son and his girlfriend began graduate studies in North Carolina. They were settled in different cities only a short time before Isabel, a Force 5 hurricane, became a threat.
From our home in Los Angeles I watched the TV news. My loved ones were in the path of the hurricane, and there were reports of snipers and bombings in the city where our soldier was stationed.
It was tempting to feel helpless. These young people were capable and courageous, but I worried about their inexperience. My son had grown up in the desert, unaccustomed to driving in severe storm weather. His girlfriend, Lizzie, was living by herself. She had never lived so far away from home before. The soldier was fresh out of basic training.
I longed to be with them all, to be on hand to comfort and guide them.
What we all need, I thought one night, is a bigger Mother. I almost laughed, but immediately a Bible verse came to my thought: "Who hath gathered the wind in his fists?" (Prov. 30:4).
The image of God's mighty hand grasping a wind named Isabel comforted me. But I asked myself, Couldn't that verse just as easily read "her fists"? I recalled a spiritual interpretation of the Lord's Prayer appearing in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy. The much-loved prayer begins, "Our Father, which art in heaven," and Mrs. Eddy interprets that line in this way: "Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious" (page 16).
This helped me recognize that divine power is not only strong, as a father would be, but also nurturing, as a mother would want to be to her children. If my loved ones needed advice, I could trust the great Mother, the all-knowing and ever-present divine Love, to tell them what they needed to know in a way they could understand. This would protect them and comfort us all.
Still, I woke in the night. Isabel was expected to churn over the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Were my prayers enough? "Please," I prayed, "let me see the might of Your hand, Father."
I turned on the television and was surprised to hear that Isabel had been downgraded to a Force 2 hurricane.
In the morning, our son called. No, he said, he wasn't particularly afraid. Classes would be canceled for the next day in anticipation of the hurricane coming ashore. Flooding was expected. No, he wasn't going down to Lizzie's. The evacuation routes were crowded, and he thought it best just to hunker down and stay inside. He said Lizzie was trying to sound calm on the phone. She was supposed to go to work, but she intended just to wait out the storm in the bathroom, even if she lost her job.
I was praying for her and everyone when one of Mrs. Eddy's poems came to mind. It begins, "O gentle presence, peace and joy and power..." and includes the prayer, "Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight." The poem concludes with the line "And mother finds her home and heav'nly rest" ("Poems," pages 4-5).
This message reassured me that Lizzie was safe. I realized that the great divine Mother provides Lizzie's home and rest. And on the heels of that new thought came the idea that Father-Mother Love provides my home and rest in Her ever-presence, powerful enough to protect and save, to comfort and inform.
The next day I was surprised when my son called from Lizzie's house. When I asked him why he'd changed his mind, he said that one of his professors had taken him aside to ask about Lizzie. "Let me give you a little motherly advice," she'd told him. "You should go and be with her." He'd followed this advice. He'd had no problems on the road, and the storm had moved through quickly. There was no severe flooding. Lizzie was fine. She hadn't lost her job. He was on his way back.
I thanked God for the professor's kindness. And I truly felt peace and rest when I later learned that our young soldier had returned safely home.
Through prayer I had indeed found a Mother big enough for us all.