My favorite hymn is “Mother’s Evening Prayer,” which was first written as a poem by Mary Baker Eddy (see Poems, p. 4).
Affirming the presence of divine Life and Love, it begins, “O gentle presence, peace and joy and power.” This line alone, I’m sure, must have brought comfort and assurance to many. The first stanza ends, “Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight.”
I remember my mother singing it to me when I was a small child, and in turn I have sung it to my children and grandchildren as a prayerful lullaby.
Peace, the sense of the gentle presence of God, divine Love, is what the whole world needs to know right now—and always. In the midst of a world in turmoil, to affirm understandingly that peace is of God, and therefore omnipotent and ever present, is a powerful, healing prayer.
What about joy? One might say that joy is the effect of the healing power of peace. But couldn’t joy itself be a powerful healing presence?
Many years ago I had an experience that bears this out. For some time I had under one arm a most uncomfortable and persistent rash that developed into small painful lumps, making it difficult to use that arm.
One night, after we all had gone to bed, our youngest child awoke with an earache and cried out for me. I sat by her, comforting her and reading to her some of the children’s stories from the Christian Science Sentinel. She wanted me to stay with her, and so I lay beside her and we talked about God, Love, being right there. However, I was very uncomfortable in her little bed as my arm with the rash was squeezed up to my body, and I found it difficult to get a clear healing thought.
I was longing to get back to my own bed and to sleep, when suddenly the thought came very clearly, “Rejoice evermore” (I Thessalonians 5:16). At first this command didn’t seem very helpful. How could I express joy while my child was still very restless and wanted me to stay with her? Besides, I was far from comfortable in her little bed.
As I turned my thought to dwell on this angel message, I began to see that joy was not only an end product of prayer. My prayer, my metaphysical work to know the truth more clearly, would be more effective if it actually began with a joyful acknowledgment of the presence and power of God, good, right now. I should be joyful and grateful to know that we were both children of God, divine Love, who was—and is—all good and ever present. Despite the apparent pain and discomfort I was feeling, I could rejoice that there was in reality only divine “peace and joy and power,” expressed in perfect health and harmony.
I began truly rejoicing in this healing message of Truth and thinking about how I might put it into words that the little one could understand. Then, just as I turned to her to speak, in that gentle presence of joy, she fell asleep, and God kept both of us on upward wing for the rest of the night.
The next morning, after a good sleep, our daughter awoke perfectly well, and stayed that way.
As for me, I found that the lumps under the arm had dried up, and they came away as I washed, never to return. I had learned a good lesson on seeing joy as a powerful presence at all times.
I am infinitely grateful for Mary Baker Eddy whose dedication to Truth brought Christian Science to the world. I am also grateful to all Christian Science practitioners, teachers, and nurses whose love for all mankind demonstrates the practicality of this Science, and also to those who publish our books and periodicals.
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