The womanhood in each of us

A Christian Science perspective.

In March each year the focus is on women. In the United States, this year Women’s History Month celebrates “Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment” while the 2012 theme for International Women’s Day earlier this month was “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.”

This year, the enduring empowerment, connections, and inspirational example of one woman is also being celebrated. The United Kingdom and Commonwealth nations around the world are commemorating 60 years since Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne. In a statement to launch her diamond jubilee, the queen said, “In this special year ... I dedicate myself anew to your service.”

Not all her subjects support the idea of a monarchy. But many people, from shop staff to pop stars, speak in glowing terms of a meeting they’ve had with her. And the queen’s record of quietly engaging with British and foreign leaders over the decades has been an inspiration across the generations.

Her quiet, persistent caring on both the national and world stages points to a quality of womanhood that is a power for good very much needed in homes, in workplaces, and in government as much as it is in the rarefied atmosphere of conversations between world leaders. While it is a quality by no means restricted to women, it is often associated with motherhood in art and literature and, indeed, in everyday life.

This quality of mothering, or deeply caring for humanity, is also a quality seen in women’s spiritual leadership. Speaking of the “tireless labors” of Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science and founded the Monitor, members of her fledgling church wrote in 1881: “[W]hile she had many obstacles to overcome, many mental hardships to endure, she has borne them bravely, blessing them that curse her, loving them that despitefully use her, thereby giving in her Christian example, as well as her instructions, the highest type of womanhood, or the love that heals” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 52).

In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mrs. Eddy herself wrote that mother-love “includes purity and constancy, both of which are immortal” (p. 60).

Whether trying to form a stable relationship or a stable government, to sustain a domestic or a national economy, glimpsing this idea of an underlying immortal constancy is a tremendous support. The term “immortal” points above the fray of mundane, mortal circumstances to a higher, holier basis for hope – the dependable divine love of God.

This mother-love of God is not abstract. It’s a model we can learn from. “The Message” interprets Jesus as saying: “This is what God does. He gives His best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless” (Matthew 5:45). If we perceive divine Love as continuing through the sunshine and storms of life and strive to replicate that love as best we can, it will have a healing impact on others.

Anyone – man or woman – can “dedicate [himself or herself] anew” to loving others with this consistency, which so powerfully expresses “the highest type of womanhood ... the love that heals.”

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.