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FROM high on a slope of Mount Shasta in the California Cascade Range on a frosty, clear night, the stars brilliantly snap. They're innumerable, yet each star is distinct. On the horizon far below shine the lights of a teeming, modern city. Its population seems immense. Yet every individual, no matter how remote the town or congested the city, is as unique as a single star. As a child I would often gaze in wonderment at the immensity of the cosmos and consider my place in it, sometimes with the result of feeling overlooked or lost. Many today, faced with untoward circumstances such as unemployment, loss of a loved one, financial worries, or failing health, may share this perception. And with reports of populations shaken by earthquakes, plagued by drought and famine, or subjected to the ravages of civil war, we all may question what value one individual could possibly have.

The unparalleled life of the Master, Christ Jesus, proved that none need be overlooked or lost. He readily healed the outcast leper1 and compassionately reached out to and cured the mentally deranged.2 No matter how incurable or longstanding a condition may have appeared, Jesus knew that each, in his real being as the child of God, was complete and whole and had a very special purpose in God's kingdom.

In his parable of the prodigal son, Jesus illustrated that whatever the situation we may be caught up in or regardless of how far or how long we may have strayed, in our true being we always belong to and are at home with God. The father's words to the older son in the parable convey a warm sense of God's constant love for His offspring: ``Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.''3 Mary Baker Eddy,4 with deep reverence for Christ Jesus and for what he taught about God's unconditional love for us, states: ``If God, who is Life, were parted for a moment from His reflection, man, during that moment there would be no divinity reflected. The Ego would be unexpressed, and the Father would be childless,--no Father.''5 Her words help us to see how necessary we each are to God and to the completeness of His universe. If the true being of each of us is God's likeness, as the Bible teaches, then each of us must belong, must be an indispensable expression of the divine nature.

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