One afternoon at our church’s Christian Science Reading Room, I walked out to our display showcase. I greeted a woman approaching the showcase with her dog on a lead, and put my hand toward the beautiful black dog for him to sniff, so that we could make friends.
To my surprise, the dog snarled and took my hand in his jaws, which closed strongly around my thumb joint. The pain was intense. When he released my hand, I stuffed it into my pocket without a glance. I knew immediately I had to forgive this beautiful animal for mistaking my action. I set about it right away, silently telling him that I forgave him unconditionally. I calmed my thought with the understanding gained from my study of Christian Science that this dog was a spiritual idea and therefore entirely good; he could not and did not possess an aggressive nature that could impact another spiritual idea—me.
This understanding is based on the biblical message that Mary Baker Eddy elucidates in her primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Understanding the control which Love held over all, Daniel felt safe in the lions’ den, and Paul proved the viper to be harmless” (p. 514). Here, the word Love is synonymous with the word God, signifying God’s complete control over His spiritual creation.
The dog’s owner was solicitous and very apologetic. While she explained a little of this dog’s history, I was mentally calm. She told me that the family loved him very much and were quite at a loss to know how to deal with his distrust of others. I assured her, “Love will find a way,” and that the best thing they could do was to continue to love this beautiful creature unconditionally.
At that moment I looked down, smiling, and audibly told him he was totally beautiful within and without. Looking into his eyes, I saw there an underlying tenderness that I knew he was capable of expressing. I found myself putting out my other hand, which he licked gently, and we became friends.
I would like to be able to say that I hadn’t had a moment’s hesitation in stretching out my other hand, but there had been a flicker of “Is this wise?” However, this momentary fear had vanished, resulting in a glorious, unforgettable moment of forgiveness and friendship.
We parted. I turned and went back to the Reading Room. My colleague, who had been unaware of these events, called out to me, “Well, that dog didn’t want to leave you, did he?”
I smiled and went to the kitchen to make a hot drink for a workman who was with us. I had to use two hands to fill the kettle, so I saw the deep impressions my new canine friend’s teeth had made in my hand. The skin was unbroken, but the bruising was already visible. Having washed my hand and made the drink, I returned to my Reading Room duties.
It was a busy afternoon, with no thoughts of pain. By the time I left for home, there was no evidence of the dog bite on my hand aside from a tiny pink mark, which disappeared quickly.
Thinking about the incident afterward, I saw that claiming the beauty of this lovely creature within and without was a protection to me, too, precluding any ugliness in my consciousness that could become apparent as a bruised hand—hence, the speedy return to normalcy.
What a wonderful proof of God’s love and care for all His creation. I haven’t seen my new friend since, but I know that when we do meet, it will be a joyful reunion.
I am so grateful. Thank you, Father-Mother Love.
St. Neots, Cambridgeshire, England
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