MY father died when I was sixteen. My mother did her best to raise me on her own. But over the years there were many times when I missed my father. As a Christian, I was well aware that Christ Jesus taught us to pray to God as ``our Father.'' But somehow these words didn't have the same impact on me then as a ``real'' father would have had. I appreciated Jesus' life and teaching, but it seemed to me that Jesus had lived long ago and that his teachings were no longer relevant.
When I became acquainted with Christian Science, however, I suddenly found Jesus' teachings brought to life. That we could and should prove the power of God in our daily lives made me look at Jesus' healing work with opened eyes. I saw the need for me to study what he taught in order to gain a clearer understanding of how spiritual healing can be accomplished. As a result of this intense study, I gained new insights into the Lord's Prayer, which begins, ``Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name'' (Matthew 6:9).
I realized that God is my Father and that I am His spiritual idea, or offspring. As His idea, I could never be separated from Him. I felt I could turn to Him as I would have turned to a human father for guidance or comfort. As I became accustomed to going to our Father in prayer, something interesting began to happen: when a circumstance in my life called for ``fathering,'' there would also be someone there who would be expressing those fathering qualities in a way that met my need.
For example, when I bought my first car, the salesman helped me get insurance with a reputable firm. He even took me to get my license plates and showed me how to put them on! His kindness made me feel wonderfully cared for and close to God because by then I had begun to see that God's love can--and should--be evident in concrete ways in our experience.
There is more to this spiritual concept of God as our Parent, however. And that is one of the specific ideas I gained from reading Mary Baker Eddy's book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science writes, ``Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation'' (p. 332).
That God could also be our Mother was something I had never thought of before. It had been easy to think of God as Father, Lawgiver, Judge, and so forth. But the tender mothering qualities of love, goodness, beauty, and peace did not leap so readily to my thoughts about God until that point.
Prior to this I had never thought much about why God would have created man. It seemed almost like a random thing. But now I realized that man has a specific purpose, which is to express God through purity, intelligence, kindness, and other divine qualities. These are not limited to one individual--we may see them in a friend, in a taxi driver, in a baker or storekeeper, in a bank teller. Ultimately, we must also see these qualities in ourselves, because this is how we affirm our sonship with God, our divine Parent.
Even though it has been many years since my mother passed away, I feel amply ``mothered'' through the spiritual qualities those around me express. In addition, I have also noticed new opportunities to express mothering and fathering qualities in my own life. So if you lack a parent or have lost one, do take heart and turn to God as Christ Jesus urged us to do. Wherever you are, no matter how alone you may feel, your Father-Mother God is always ready to help and comfort you.