The first lesson I remember is her having me repeat, "I love everybody, and everybody loves me" several times a day. In a few years this developed into "Love is reflected in love." She instilled into me how important it is to smile at people and say "Hello."
Then as I matured a bit, she subscribed to Wee Wisdom, a Unity magazine for children. I waited for it eagerly each month and read and re-read the stories, which really influenced my spiritual growth. In fact, I had my first demonstration of faith after reading a tale of a little girl who had a wart someplace on her hand, as I recall. She began looking at her other hand and thinking of how beautiful it was. And one day—her wart had disappeared. It so happened that I had tried many remedies to rid myself of exactly the same problem—a wart on my left thumb. I was very young, about 7 I think, but I could read, and most importantly, I believed that anything in print was true.
I began ignoring the left thumb and saying to the right: "You are God's perfect thumb." I simply stopped thinking about the errant thumb. I don't recall how long it was before I discovered I had two perfect thumbs. Was I surprised? Of course not; I knew it would happen.
Paying for Daily Word and Wee Wisdom publications was something of a financial strain in those days of the Great Depression, but Mama had a little cardboard prosperity bank from Unity into which she would drop a penny or so every day, closing her eyes and saying, "There is plenty for us all." When the four of us sat down to a good hot supper in a cozy house, she or Daddy would say, "My, aren't we rich!"
Unity mantras have carried me through so many crises that I can't begin to count them. Throughout college and graduate school I achieved more success than my IQ would have predicted. Always before a test I closed my eyes and silently repeated, "The Christ Spirit of knowledge is circulating through my brain, and I am ready for testing." I also studied a lot!
Later, when I was teaching English and literature in a college, before a final exam, I would say slowly to my class, "Now be very quiet, close your eyes, relax, and see if you can feel the river of information flowing through your head and down your arms into your hands and onto your bluebook." The first time I tried that approach I was a tad afraid those 18-year-old freshmen might giggle, but they didn't. In fact they seemed to be relaxed and ready to write—except for a few who had not studied. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.
But I have won a lot. I have taken my two children through croup, appendicitis, tonsillectomies and broken bones. What mother hasn't? Some pray, some affirm, whatever works. For me it is affirmation of health, envisioned as a beautiful oasis of the Christ Spirit of healing, which never goes dry.
That is not to say that error has never threatened my faith. In a period of nine months my dear mother-in-law, my beloved husband and my only brother succumbed to cancer. My husband had endured the disease so bravely, but when the end came, my first emotion was one of relief that he was no longer suffering. I thought, "Lovingly in the hands of the Savior." Still, I had to cry a lot and question a lot.
About this time an article in Unity Magazine suggested when we have heavy obstacles to overcome or great grief, ask ourselves, "In one year from now will I be proud of what I have done or said today?" That gave me strength and kept me sane.
To handle the crushing grief I read current and back issues of Daily Word, especially those titled "Let Go, Let God." How often I chanted that to myself. At my brother's side, two days before he was allowed his final relief, I said softly to him, "You know, Bob, sometimes you just have to 'let go and let God.'" In barely a whisper, he said, "Yes, that's a good thing to say."
Nine years later the same affirmation seemed to help our mother, aged 103. I reminded her, "Mama, it's okay just to 'let go and let God.'" "Is it?" she asked, then seemed to remember, "Yes, that's what to do."
I've had my share of happy times and traumatic times in my life, and I am so thankful Mama found Unity in 1924. I'm so proud to be the same age as Daily Word!