When her family’s cat went missing, a woman’s prayers were empowered by the idea that the true essence, or substance, of God’s creatures can never be lost. The outcome? Tangible evidence of the truth of that idea.

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One day our cat, who spends his time indoors and outdoors, didn’t come home. We couldn’t find him, but I was comforted by the idea that he is God’s creation, a spiritual idea of God, always safe and secure in the divine Mind. That’s the true substance, or essence, of all of God’s creatures, and it can never be lost.

Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, writes: “Substance is that which is eternal and incapable of discord and decay. Truth, Life, and Love are substance” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 468). With this in mind, I love to think about substance in terms of qualities. For instance, the substance of a home might include harmony and tenderness. And the substance of a pet might include loyalty and love.

Situations may change, but true, spiritual substance is not confined to a particular place, person, or creature. It is unchanging and eternal. In becoming more conscious of this spiritual fact, which underlies all things, we can experience more of the goodness of God in our lives.

A few months went by, though, and the cat still had not turned up. At this point, I started wrestling with what I should do next. In our neighborhood we are only allowed to have two pets, and with one of our two pets missing, it felt like a void. I pursued several leads to adopt a new animal, but my attempts were unfruitful. It became pretty obvious to me that this wasn’t a divinely inspired path.

One night, I humbly reached out to God for guidance. I thought about all the qualities that our cat represented, qualities that didn’t feel complete in our home without him. Joy, peace, tenderness, fulfillment, and love were some that I considered.

But as I prayed, I began to feel these qualities were present. I felt them tangibly. I saw so clearly that such qualities come from God, divine Life and Love, and they shine through all of creation. I would say that I was glimpsing the underlying spiritual qualities of a home and of this pet. It was a beautiful, inspiring, and uplifting prayer, and I felt totally at peace.

A couple of hours after praying in this way, my husband opened up the front door to let our dog out before bed. And guess who was sitting on the doormat? Our cat. He had just showed up after three months. It was clear he had been taken care of during that time, as he was healthy and safe. His arrival home was so spontaneous, so perfectly timed, and we were all overjoyed! That was a real turning point in my family’s sense of where home and completeness truly come from.

Furthermore, whereas in the past this cat had sometimes been problematic in the home, now he was the sweetest, most loving and loyal cat. He became more affectionate with our family. He still enjoys the indoors and outdoors, but now he impresses the neighbors by accompanying us and our dog on walks, keeping right with us, through rain, snow, and sunshine.

This experience helped me see more of the spiritual substance that underlies true being. As we recognize the divine qualities inherent in every person and creature, this sustains us through challenges and we experience more of the freedom and harmony that God has given each of us.

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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.