IT was the summer of fifth grade, and I was away at camp. I was really homesick. I loved my family and knew they loved me, and I had always felt safe and happy at home. But camp was hundreds of miles away from home, and I wasn't sure that I liked being there! I wanted someplace that felt familiar. I wanted someone nearby who I knew really loved me. I wanted the comfort that comes when you feel at home. Even so, I was very fortunate--I had never felt this uneasy insecurity before. Some children feel this way most, or all, of the time. They seldom feel secure or cherished. And as I think about those children now, I remember how glad I was that Lyn was one of my camp counselors. She always seemed willing to sit down and chat with me. In fact, once we got talking, three or four others would usually join our cozy talks. I don't remember what we talked about, but being around Lyn was like being at
Children need love. We know that we're supposed to love them, but as any parent, teacher (or camp counselor) can attest, it seems as though the times they need loving most are the times they seem the least lovable. If consistent, heartfelt love for children seems as difficult as it is necessary, it could be that we need a new perspective on love. It may help to think again of love as the love that John speaks of in his first Biblical letter when he says "God is love.
In daily life we may think of love as just an emotion that is selective. Such love can get tired or fade in spite of our best intentions--it isn't love we can rely on. Yet reliability and permanency of affection are what gives us the feeling of home.
And reliability and permanency are the nature of the love that Christ Jesus showed us. He showed us that love, true spiritual love, is far more than an emotion. It is the expression of God, who is divine Love. And he showed us that expressing divine Love is not beyond man's nature. It is our true nature as God's creation, made in His likeness.
Christ Jesus showed us specifically what this means through his healing work. There's no indication in the Bible that the people Jesus healed were particularly lovable in a conventional sense. They were, in fact, people at low points in their lives-- preoccupied with sickness or sin. They were probably considered by many as not worth much time or attention.
Isn't this the way problem children are sometimes judged? Children (even our own at times) may not look promising on the surface. But Jesus looked beneath the surface. His judgments were not based on matter or the outward appearance but on Spirit, God. He saw all creation to be like its creator--spiritual.
From what we read in the Gospels, it seems clear that he cared and prayed for strangers with the same love he gave to his dearest friends. While he had never previously met many of the people he healed, he was closely acquainted with their true nature as God's man.
We can love this way too. It's called prayer. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science and founded the religion, says of prayer: "Prayer is the utilization of the love wherewith He loves us. Utilizing perfect Love eliminates impatience, prejudice, pride, selfishness, apathy. Our hearts are filled with spiritual affection, and our feelings are spontaneous and pure--without reservation.
And so whether we're in a position to sit down with unhappy children as my camp counselor did, to work with children with severe challenges, to pray in response to some incident in the news, or simply to try to get along better with our own sons and daughters, the loving that comes from prayer doesn't find anyone unworthy. And it never runs out.