With the passing of my husband, my children and I have endeavored to fill the void. He was an amazing man: a father, musician, professor, and diplomat – a large presence in all our lives that suddenly seems to have gone missing. My older son, an officer in the US Marine Corps and a leader and veteran of war zones, told me recently that he felt fatherless.
As a lifelong Christian Scientist, my first response to my son was one centered in prayer. "You are never without your Father," I assured him. No matter where we go or how difficult our situation might be, our Father-Mother, God, is there, and we can open our hearts to that divine fathering and mothering presence.
I reminded him that in his recent deployment in Afghanistan he was witness to God's presence as he and his men trained Afghan policemen in remote areas of the country without harm to themselves or their colleagues. And I thought about the gift my son brought home to his father, a US flag that had flown over the Marine base in Afghanistan. Dear to me was the accompanying certificate from the Marines, on which was written a statement from Mary Baker Eddy (a quotation from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which my son had chosen): "As a drop of water is one with the ocean, a ray of light one with the sun, even so God and man, Father and son, are one in being" (p. 361).
Even in Afghanistan that Father-presence of God's care for His sons and daughters was evident to my son, and he chose that quote for his dad.
I found it fascinating in the news recently that the National Catholic Reporter states that Pope Francis is seeing major issues in a loving, simple way. It likened the church's care for its congregants to the mothering care of God. It stated that people need to feel the care of God like the arms of a mother welcoming a child home as the child steps across the threshold and into her warm embrace (NPR, "What Was The Pope Thinking?" Sept. 22). Again I thought about my son's concerns about being fathered, and indeed mothered, in God's love.
We are all yearning for that tender care and reassurance that come from perhaps a human parent at first, and that broaden and encircle us in the embrace of God's love. God is an infinite, unchanging, true parent to whom we can always turn, and who is always there for us, whether we are in a war zone or going through our daily routines.
A hymn by Margaret Glenn Matters from the "Christian Science Hymnal" (No. 232) highlights Mother love, and I like to think about Father love, too, in this hymn as each day I sing it in my heart to my son, despite the miles between us:
O Love, our Mother, ever near,
To Thee we turn from doubt and fear!
In perfect peace our thoughts abide;
Our hearts now in this truth confide:
Man is the child of God.
We are never fatherless or motherless when we see ourselves in this true light as a child of God.