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Loving the Neighborhood

WHEN we first moved into the neighborhood, our young children eagerly watched all the youngsters on the street playing together. But even after several months none of them had come to our house. They would run right past our children and never even look in their direction! We had lived in several different places, but nowhere else had our children been so thoroughly ignored.

Finally one morning I asked a friend to help me pray about this problem. She pointed out a passage in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures that she'd found very helpful. It's where Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``This is the doctrine of Christian Science: that divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object; that joy cannot be turned into sorrow, for sorrow is not the master of joy; that good can never produce evil; that matter can never

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produce mind nor life result in death."

My attention was riveted by the thought that God, divine Love, couldn't be deprived of having His love manifested by all His children, because man is God's expression. The feeling I'd had of living in a cold, aloof neighborhood withered before this spiritual awareness of Love's ever-presence. I saw that all the neighborhoods of God's infinite universe are created to express His love. The Bible helps us understand that in reality, all--children, animals, and neighbors-- must feel love within themselves, a nd express this love to all. And in reality the children, animals, and neighbors know that they are recipients of this remarkable, immeasurable love.

All that day the certainty of Love's presence filled every inch of my neighborhood and my world. Christian Science shows us that spiritual reality is perfect and needs only to be understood as the underlying law of creation in order to bring it to light in our experience. God made everything good, and His love for His creation is deeper, wider, higher, more unbounded and fulfilling than anything we can imagine.

I was so caught up in what I was learning of spiritual reality that I forgot about the children's lack of playmates. But as I've learned since that time, Truth, when understood, is always ``made flesh--that is, it irresistibly results in improved human conditions.

The next day, as soon as we were awake, there was a loud knocking at the front door. A couple of the neighborhood children had come to ask if mine could come out and play! Could they! They quickly jumped into their clothes and ran outside. In a short time more children joined the play. During the day as one set of children would be called home, another child or group would come. By afternoon the deluge of children hadn't stopped! I called my friend and joked, ``Would you stop praying now? Children are ev erywhere!" We both laughed. And from that day on, there were always playmates for my children.

This experience taught me how to pray for my neighborhood. In subsequent moves and during difficult challenges I would remember the embracing love of God for my neighbors, and there would be progress or healing. We have confronted many difficult problems in various neighborhoods over the years, but have remained safe and in harmony with our neighbors.

There were also times when neighbors might have shown concern because of our stand for spiritual healing. But our steadfast effort to acknowledge the Love that governs all brought visible healings to animals, to family members, and to the neighbors themselves. It was never intentional for our healings to be public. But often an incident would occur in full view of the neighbors. And they would see the progress and the healing.

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The effort to love our neighborhoods may not immediately correct every problem in our neighborhood, but it brings a fresh breath of unity and progress into our common experience. The Love that is God fills the neighborhood and everyone in it. Christ Jesus showed us that true worship and healing are identical, and he based his ministry on love. So there is a direct parallel between the activity of loving our neighbors and the ability to experience healing in our own lives.

When we have learned that Love truly is present in all our neighborhoods, we will have a spiritual basis for greater unity and understanding. We are then returning the neighborhoods to God, who provides safety, companionship, and love for all of us, His children. BIBLE VERSE How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart. Ps. 36:7-10

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