One Saturday, a relative brought me some urgent news – my younger sister had unexpectedly passed away. It was a shock to hear this.
That day, I was in my neighborhood Christian Science Reading Room, which I’d found to be a spiritual refuge since first learning about Christian Science some years before. I’d spent many hours there being fed spiritually, using its vast selection of spiritual resource materials to aid me in my Bible study. One verse had recently leapt off the page at me: “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). Right then, I’d made a private commitment to strive to do that to the best of my ability.
When I heard about my sister, whom I loved dearly, the urge to grieve loomed over me. But I found hope in this idea of praying without ceasing – of “hold[ing] fast that which is good” (I Thessalonians 5:21), or actively acknowledging God’s ever-present goodness. Turning wholeheartedly to God, who is infinite Love, I affirmed in my prayers that divine Love was the source of my strength and would show me how to respond appropriately to the events to come. I also leaned on this verse from the Bible: “It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect” (Psalms 18:32).
Searching for a deeper understanding of these words, I discovered that one meaning of “strong” is “having great force of mind.” Christian Science explains that Mind is a synonym for God, who creates and knows only peace, life, and joy. I saw that I could rely on the force, or power and presence, of divine Mind to lift my thoughts above the dark sense of death, misfortune, and loss.
During the days that followed, I pondered the explanation of creation given in the first chapter of the Bible, where God, divine Spirit, “saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). This helped me see that what constituted my sister’s true identity were God-reflected, spiritual qualities – qualities such as the kindness, vitality, generosity, and motherly love that I had always appreciated in her. This identity originates in God and therefore cannot be lost or destroyed. On the contrary, these qualities live forever and can be felt in our hearts and thoughts even after someone we love has passed on.
When family and friends gathered to remember my sister’s life, we took turns sharing our favorite memories of “C,” as she was affectionately called. The stories shared were filled with joy and laughter. Treasuring these precious memories of how she expressed herself as the loved child of God had a healing effect. While there were still tender moments when I missed my sister, I can honestly say that I was free from deep grief and have remained so. Instead, I felt filled with a conviction that life cannot truly be lost.
Jesus instructs us, “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:6). Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains, “The closet typifies the sanctuary of Spirit, the door of which shuts out sinful sense but lets in Truth, Life, and Love” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 15).
Each of us can have a “sanctuary” experience as we hold steadfastly to the spiritual fact of Spirit’s allness and goodness. The effect is a tangible sense of God’s love and comforting presence, bringing us peace and freedom from emotions and thoughts that are unlike God, good.