I remember the first time I really felt divine Love.
I had felt loved by individual people all my life. Here and there would be a particular person who reflected Love to me in a way that made me feel special. A Sunday school teacher, a best friend, a camp counselor. These moments always comforted me.
But there came a time when these moments weren't enough.
Things weren't going so well, although it should have been the happiest time of my life. I had just had my first baby, a perfect little girl, and supposedly had a happy marriage - but that was an illusion put on to impress friends and family. Nothing could fill the hollowness I felt inside.
When my daughter was about a week old, I still hadn't recovered fully from the delivery, but I allowed myself to believe my husband when he said I should be up and running again. And, we were out of milk. So I made the walk down a steep hill to buy a gallon, and trudged with it back up to our condo. The milk was heavier than I expected.
Shortly thereafter I began to feel an intense pain unlike anything I'd ever felt. I endured it for a time, then called the Christian Science practitioner who had prayed for me throughout my pregnancy. After she understood the pain I was in, she agreed to pray for me immediately, and said, "Let's hang up, and you call me again in a half an hour."
I hung up the phone, which was in my lap as I sat rocking in our big rocking chair - the one my mother had used to rock us when we were small. I remember clutching the phone, still crying and rocking ... then something changed.
Something started to fill me up, like water pouring into a glass. It was like light breaking through clouds. It was a hug that didn't stop at my skin, but permeated my whole being. I was infused with warmth and joy.
A calm settled over me, and I basked in this new feeling. Gradually my mind focused and I was able to put a word on it: Love. I was feeling Love for the first time in my life as a presence, as a being, conscious of me, present with me, delighted with me.
Need I say that the pain went away, never to return? I never found out what it was, but it was healed completely. When I called the practitioner, I had so much more than freedom from pain to report. I had felt Love, and it had transformed me.
Although it took some more time and events to gain a deeper sense of happiness, I think this was the start of that journey. The marriage ended, and I followed my own path. Now, as this same daughter comes home from college for Christmas break, I can look back on that rocking-chair moment and see it as the first of a series of transforming encounters with Love.
My wish for everyone this season is to feel that Love as well in moments of need, and indeed every day.
Remember, thou canst be brought into no condition,
be it ever so severe,
where Love has not been before thee and where
its tender lesson
is not awaiting thee.
Mary Baker Eddy
(Founder of Christian Science)