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The cross and the sword

AFTER a sudden difficult personal trial, which took place while I was on holiday with my grandchildren, I saw in many places on the ground around the house pairs of sticks tied with strings. To me they looked like crosses, which made me think of Jesus. For a few days, the cross seemed to me the symbol of the experience our family had just been going through. Then I noticed one of my grandchildren picking up one of these crosses, and realized that for him it was not a cross but a sword! The children had used any kind of wood they could find to make swords. I saw an inspired message in this and was grateful for it. Many of us, when confronted with a trial, may feel that we are bearing a cross. But as Jesus proved, cross bearing can be the means of overcoming evil. It can be the beginning of further progress. Whatever aspect of evil we may be facing, we should know that God has given us the means to fight against it, because His power is supreme, and He has given man dominion. The lesson of the cross and sword was useful during another trial, when after a rich and rewarding family life my husband passed on. We learn through the study of Christian Science that death is not final, that the relationship of God and man is indestructible, and that in reality man is spiritual and undying, the image of his creator. The Godlike qualities expressed by an individual are indestructible. This understanding uplifts us and helps us to overcome grief. But after a time of being alone, perhaps we feel solitary, especially if our children are grown and have their own families. Do we feel we have nothing to do, no real, useful work? Self-pity suggests that we can withdraw within ourselves and shut ourselves off from the world. This passage from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, can be a great help: ``Would existence without personal friends be to you a blank? Then the time will come when you will be solitary, left without sympathy; but this seeming vacuum is already filled with divine Love. When this hour of development comes, even if you cling to a sense of personal joys, spiritual Love will force you to accept what best promotes your growth.'' 1 Then, what must be the aim of our lives? Isn't the instruction of Jesus to Peter, ``Feed my sheep,'' 2 an answer to how can we be more useful? Is real love only for our own family? Shouldn't we enlarge our tents to include a wider sense of family, and thereby experience a higher joy? Spiritualizing and purifying our lives, and helping others to progress, are the best ways to promote our own growth. Reading and listening to the news, watching what is going on around us, we see the great need to pray. The Bible is an invaluable tool to guide us, to teach and to heal. So is Science and Health by Mrs. Eddy. When our motive is to work for God and mankind, we find we have more and more time to pray, not only for ourselves but for others as well. Feelings of loneliness will melt when we cultivate our sense of real individuality as God's expression. We will feel God's love with us right where we are. Being alone with God, we no longer feel dependent on our surroundings. Rather, we feel free to dedicate our lives to the spiritual progress of all. 1 Science and Health, p. 266. 2 John 21:17.

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