A cup of cold water, a sweet moment shared among strangers

A Christian Science perspective: On a crowded park bench in Istanbul, Turkey, a visitor gets a glimpse of brotherhood.

Thankfully I settled into a place just right for me on an otherwise full bench – to my left a young woman, to my right a young lad with his father. Assured of my comfort, my husband moved off to reenter the spice market, or Egyptian market, as it is known locally in Istanbul.

It was late afternoon, and it was hot. While on vacation from Britain, we had had a busy day of nonstop sight-seeing, and our tour group was about to reassemble to return to our hotels. A few minutes on a shady bench was just what I needed.

I looked around me. The square was teeming with people. We had just walked through a crowded pedestrian tunnel, and our guide asked us to make sure that our belongings were secure as we did so. A wise precaution. But as I sat there, my thought turned to the presence of divine Love. This message of inspiration had been with me all day: “Life, Truth, and Love in all around I see,/ for Thou dost unfailingly abide with me.” This is a paraphrase of a hymn by H.F. Lyte, adapted by Bertha H. Woods, No. 7 in the “Christian Science Hymnal.” (The hymn reads: “Health, hope and love in all around I see/ For those who trustingly abide in Thee.”)

I continued to survey the scene, recognizing this holy presence and rejoicing in Love’s all-encompassing, never-ending nature.

As I pondered those ideas, the young lad and his dad shared a joke in Turkish that I did not understand. The dad, smiling, looked over his son’s head toward me, and we held each other’s gaze. His love for his child was so apparent and abundant that it resonated with my discernment of God’s love for His entire creation – and we shared a holy moment of pure joy.

Moments later, a water-seller came into view. The father called him over. My attention was diverted by something else going on in the square until all of a sudden the man handed me – with a smile – a bottle of cold water that he had purchased for me. Delighted by his kindness, I thanked him and took it. He put his hand to his heart and bowed his head. A lovely gesture.

I sipped the water and thought, What can I do to show my gratitude – what can I offer? Anyone who has spent any time with me at all knows that I usually have a tin of travel sweets about my person. I delved into my bag, found the tin, and offered it to the lad. He took one without hesitation. The father smilingly refused – repeating the hand-on-heart gesture. I turned to the woman on my left and offered the tin to her. She also took one, smiling.

So there we sat. A diverse little group on a bench in a city square on a hot day, refreshed by a cup of cold water and a sweetly shared moment. Fellow citizens of the household of God, united by that indissoluble bond of spirituality, which unlocks the human heart by dissolving selfishness and lifting us to the perception of what Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote about in her poem titled “The New Century”: “Love hath one race, one realm, one power” (“Poems,” p. 22).

Thank you, Father-Mother Love.

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