ON NOVEMBER 5, 1903, Mary Baker Eddy wrote to Caroline Frame, one of her students: "You are not alone. Love is with you watching tenderly over you by day and night; and this Love will not leave you but will sustain you and remember all thy tears and answer thy prayers" (The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, L12888).
This beautiful promise became a lifeline to me when, early this year, my beloved husband, Don, passed away suddenly. The outpouring of love from family and friends was a welcome comfort.
A wonderful Christian Science practitioner and teacher once said something I've always remembered: "Man's eternal purpose is to express God." And from Romans, St. Paul declared, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (8:38). So, after my husband's passing, I felt assured that nothing could ever stop, interrupt, or prohibit either Don or me from our individual and divine purpose of expressing God.
I felt, and still feel, so much gratitude for the privilege of loving this dear man and sharing a wonderful life together for more than 40 years. Some years ago, I compiled a long list of qualities I cherished most about my dear Don: fidelity, integrity, devotion, selflessness, strength, courage, tenderness, forgiveness, joy, intelligence. After his passing, I kept this list by my bedside, determined to see evidence of these tangible and continuing qualities from God each day.
One day, however, feeling alone and grief-stricken, I reached out to God and asked, "Father, if nothing has happened to Don, why is there such a huge hole in my heart, and why is my life in such disarray?" Bills for Don's care had started arriving in short order, and I found myself in mounting debt. There were bills far exceeding $100,000 for a few hours that Don had spent in a medical facility. This was a particularly unfamiliar and uncomfortable position, since we had founded our marriage on fiscal responsibility.
The answer to my prayers was a simple concept that I recalled from Christian Science class instruction many years before: "Start with God and stay with God." To me, that meant to stay with what I knew about God's allness, because God is Life itself and universal Love. I wrestled to keep my thought there, when all the fears of loss and emptiness would challenge my mental stand.
I found comfort in Mary Baker Eddy's mention of angels, especially Gabriel, in Science and Health. Referring to that angel from the book of Luke, as well as the angel named Michael, she wrote: "These angels deliver us from the depths. Truth and Love come nearer in the hour of woe, when strong faith or spiritual strength wrestles and prevails through the understanding of God. The Gabriel of His presence has no contests. To infinite, ever-present Love, all is Love, and there is no error, no sin, sickness, nor death" (p. 567).
I called on a Christian Science practitioner to pray with me, and I began to see my way out of this wilderness. And I began to take every detail to God and acknowledge His supreme government daily.
Regarding the financial situation, I was reminded of Elisha's servant, who, when surrounded by the Syrian army, asked, "Alas, my master! how shall we do?" Elisha's response was a prayer to open the eyes of the young man to see that "they that be with us are more than they that be with them" (see II Kings 6:1-23). I knew that there were no adversarial relationships under God's government, and that in my desire to do right I would have whatever was needed. Divine Love would never allow me to become impoverished.
Last September, the Sentinel featured a great article titled "To truly 'spread the wealth' " (September 28, 2009), which helped me. The author shared an analogy he'd heard about a long freight train arriving each and every morning filled with abundant ideas from God, more than enough to meet every demand of the day.
Well, I leaned on that "freight train" of ever-present good, and listening for divine Mind's guidance, I telephoned each of the dozen or so creditors who wanted payment and asked to negotiate the debt. Each one offered significant reductions, which I was able to pay promptly with joy and gratitude. There was one last invoice that I anticipated and knew would be the largest and most significant.
Also about this time, there were two small life insurance policies payable to me. But the first one was denied; and then, at the last minute, the other was also denied. I was encouraged to pursue legal restitution. However, I couldn't justify it in this case. In my commitment to "start with God and stay with God," I felt I needed to trust divine justice to work out every detail on my behalf. To try to "fix things" felt like a distraction and a process that I hadn't proved. And I couldn't afford any detours. I didn't want to stand with my feet in two different boats, and I wasn't going to choose the one with the leaky bottom. My focus needed to stay entirely on the sustaining Spirit.
The final major bill arrived, and while it had been drastically reduced, it was still a significant amount of money. In speaking to this creditor, I was told that if I would pay promptly, there would be an additional cost reduction. The thought came, "Pay it now and move forward," which I did with gratitude.
Also at this time, I received a letter from Social Security stating that there was a company that my husband had worked for in the 1970s and '80s, which might provide some sort of benefit, and they suggested that I research it. I had no idea where to start or even if the effort was worthwhile. The letter sat on my desk for weeks, but the idea would not let me go.
Finally, locating the parent company on the Internet, I called and spoke to a caseworker. Three weeks later, she called me back to tell me that yes indeed, I was due a monthly stipend or, if I preferred, a lump sum check. This lump sum amount was almost exactly equal to the amount of the large bill I had just paid. How humbling! It was as if God was saying to me, "My dear daughter, you see, I have not abandoned you, and all that I have is yours!"
After my husband's passing, I felt assured that nothing
could ever stop, interrupt, or prohibit either Don or me
from our individual and divine
purpose of expressing God.
Very early one morning, I awoke with the thought "Cherish your individual nature." I realized that I needed to pray about the world beliefs concerning widowhood. I was not a fragmented half of a once happy whole, cruising on the downward side of a timeline with limited prospects for happiness. Rather, all the qualities of joy, love, and purpose that I possessed were a permanent reflection of my Father-Mother, given to me by my Maker before the world was. And each of His ideas, His children, is complete, undecaying, and continuous.
Later that day, I was walking through the rose garden where Don and I had spent so many happy hours, and I was astounded at the beauty. In January the rose bushes had been cut back and had looked like nothing more than a collection of ugly, twisted, thorny twigs. Now, in mid-April, they were thriving with green lush leaves and huge buds of every color. They had been fed, watered, and cultivated. Each rosebush, magnificent and complete with its own name, characteristics, and color was independent from the rest, and yet in a massive bouquet they complemented and enhanced each other. They simply bloomed because it was their nature to do so. As I thanked God for this life lesson, I thought: I'm ready to bloom, I'm ready to move forward.
While in Boston on a June day, for the Annual Meeting of The Mother Church, I spent treasured time reading some of Mary Baker Eddy's correspondence in the research department of The Mary Baker Eddy Library. It was there I witnessed something more of divine Love's power and presence.
As I glanced up from what I was reading, I saw an individual smiling a sweet and precious smile. This person's wonderful, strong face was completely radiant with a Christly love. It was just an instant, a moment that spoke to me with reassuring certainty that all the cherished qualities of God, so close to my heart, really do continue uninterrupted and unabated. The entire experience was over in seconds, and it wasn't until I returned home the following day that I realized I was completely healed of any vestige of grief. The sorrow was simply gone.
As Life continues to move me forward, I rejoice and am ever more grateful for Mrs. Eddy's words that "He who dwelleth in eternal light is bigger than the shadow, and will guard and guide His own" (Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896, p. 134).
Pamela Gresham lives in Simi Valley, California.
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