A friend and I were riding our bicycles along a very pleasant stretch of lakeshore. It was an "up-north" setting, one that traditionally had been for summer vacations but over the years had become an upscale year-round residential area.
We were enjoying the smooth road and the beautiful scenery, but we couldn't help commenting on the substantial houses along the way. Each one seemed grander than the one before. There were Victorian houses, bungalows, modified ranch-style houses, and there were some that were simply big without any obvious style.
Suddenly I grabbed my brake levers and squealed to a stop. There, right next to the water, was the most perfect little dwelling I'd seen all day. My friend heard my brakes and circled back to see what was up. I nodded toward the one-room cabin, its logs painted pastel yellow, its trim pastel blue and pink. It was a gorgeous little house in a perfect up-north spot. My friend asked, "What's so special?"
"There's no mistaking the design in a structure so simple," I said. He remarked that he hadn't even noticed when first riding by.
What was the appeal? The pattern, the motif, and the arrangement of the elements were not complicated; they were not buried in the architecture. Its purpose was plain to see for anyone who was looking.
So many things seem complicated and big. A job, a relationship, church, school, politics. I'm in a constant search for that log-cabin kind of simplicity.
I know it can be found in prayer.
Prayer is how I search for an understanding of God, and I've found that understanding in Christian Science.
Since the time of that bike ride, I was asked to speak to a group of colleagues. While we were in the same business and had the same goals, our methods and motivation were different. I was told that I'd be speaking with some who disagreed with everything my part of the business represented. They also thought that my budget was too high and didn't understand how it could be justified.
It was up to me to find common ground and express those ideas in a way understandable to my colleagues. It was also important to close any gaps in this relationship. I decided to pray.
"I and my Father are one," Jesus explained, describing his relationship with God (John 10:30). There is no separation between Jesus and his Father-Mother, no intervening elements.
In prayer I start with the simplest facts: that God is All, that He is good, that I am loved by God, and that I have the same relationship with God as did Jesus and as does everyone. God's sweetness and tenderness is divine Love. It's expressed in the warmth that we feel for a dear friend, the joy of a discovered idea, the satisfaction of work well done.
The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, described this relationship in her book "Science and Health with Key" to the Scriptures. "Father-Mother is the name for Deity," she wrote, "which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation. As the apostle expressed it in words which he quoted with approbation from a classic poet: 'For we are also His offspring' " (page 332).
Now I was ready for the meeting. Once I understood that everyone is my sister and brother under the parenthood of divine Love, then every face I saw was like looking on the face of God. We were all distinct, but we all had one heritage. I looked out on that room of faces and could do nothing but love them. They heard my ideas; I answered their questions; the evening ran long, but we ended that meeting in harmony.
Back on the bike trail, we continued our ride up the shoreline. The farther north we rode, the simpler and more primitive became the landscape. It's also a historic area. Centennial farms occupy the rolling fields. A rustic store, bakery, and a post office stand where such businesses have been for more than 100 years.
I like the reminders of simplicity. I take them back with me to the town where I live and work. Whenever I need to, I ride back in thought to the simple awareness that Love holds us tenderly and perpetually. That's enough.