Boston Marathon 2013 – Moving beyond sadness

On the day the joy and happiness and unity and celebration of Boston Marathon 2013 was ambushed by bombs, my heart and my prayers went out to the people of my town of Boston and to all those visiting from afar for this wonderful gathering.

raindrops-650x250Photo by Silent Shot / cc by 2.0

On the day the joy and happiness and unity and celebration of Boston Marathon 2013 was ambushed by bombs, my heart and my prayers went out to the people of my town of Boston and to all those visiting from afar for this wonderful gathering.

It was a shocking and horrible scene.  I had to pray to find a semblance of peace for myself.  I felt good about my prayers and they gave me some sense of strength.

The next day I had to get up very early and travel into Boston to work, right near where the attack happened.  I awoke that morning only to have a great sense of sadness descend upon me.  When I was brushing my teeth, I felt like crying.  As my wife and I drove into the city the sadness became more palpable.  I felt as if I was feeling the sadness of the city, the sadness of joy turning into sorrow.

At the same time I felt that yesterday’s prayer was working in me, that deep down there was a peace.  The surface was sadness but in the depths of thought and feeling there was a peace.  It was an interesting place to be mentally and I didn’t fight it but rather just stepped back and observed my feelings a bit,  feeling I guess that the Spirit of God was going to win out without my forcing it.  The sadness gave me a deep sense of compassion that didn’t feel all bad.  I felt as though in this very meek state it was easier to feel God, to feel divine Love’s presence somehow.  I felt effortless prayer, full of love, and I mean a deep deep feeling of love going out to all, even to the perpetrators, feeling somehow that they had been used and needed comfort too.

It actually developed into a beautiful feeling, maybe just a hint of the compassion that Jesus often felt according to the scriptures.  It made my prayer stronger and yet I wasn’t trying to pray, wasn’t saying words or even trying to think spiritual thoughts in an organized way.  I was just listening and feeling what felt like divine Love working in me and through me to embrace everyone, to comfort those that mourn, including myself.   And oddly enough, when the sadness felt strongest so did the love I felt for everyone, the love I felt embraced by.  And I got clearer than I’ve ever been that I need to love so much more, in every instance — that we all do.  That is the only thing that will take away, utterly destroy the hatred, the anger, the frustration that would cause someone to do something like this.

This feeling of love and compassion and hope and comfort I’m sure was and is the Christ.  I understand the Christ to be the power of God — the godliness that works in us, the light that enlightens us.  In this experience I felt it stronger than usual.  Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and wrote about the Science of Christ defined Christ this way in one instance,

“Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness.” (Science and Health 332:9-11)

I have to say, that is what I felt and still feel to some degree in regard to this trying time.  It is all very fresh and I’m still working my way through it but I feel there are spiritual forces at work for all of us that are stronger than the seeming forces of sadness and dread.

This Christ, our true divine nature, is not just working in me any more than it was just working in Jesus.  I know it is universal and is working in each one now and always to bring peace to our sadness, comfort to us that mourn,  binding up our broken hearts, and healing broken or damaged bodies.

I’m reminded of these two verses from a church hymn, referring to Christ the Savior.

He comes to bless thee on his wings of healing;

To banish pain, and wipe all tears away;

He comes anew, to humble hearts revealing

The mounting footsteps of the upward way.

 

He comes to give thee joy for desolation,

Beauty for ashes of the vanished years;

For every tear to bring full compensation,

To give thee confidence for all thy fears.

Prayer That Prevents Crime in Our Cities

The local evening news reported the gang-related shooting deaths of two more children in my city, echoing a recent article in The Christian Science Monitor with this ominous title: “Chicago police use more deadly force as gang war heats up” (July 25). It’s not uncommon here for high-speed car chases…

The local evening news reported the gang-related shooting deaths of two more children in my city, echoing a recent article in The Christian Science Monitor with this ominous title: “Chicago police use more deadly force as gang war heats up” (July 25). It’s not uncommon here for high-speed car chases to involve trading gunfire with police. There have already been 40 shootouts so far this year.

Chicago_police_with_sillitoe-400x300In thinking about this, I took interest in a report by Robert Wildeboer, a criminal and legal affairs reporter. Wildeboer discovered thatthe city of Toronto has about one seventh the number of murders compared to Chicago, even though the two cities are of equal size. He observed that a key difference is that the public in Toronto demands a crime-free society, and that this expectation filters through the neighborhoods, the news media, politicians, lawmakers and law enforcement (“Under the gun: Murder in Chicago and Toronto,” Chicago Public Media).

To me, this observation suggests a striking possibility: that by refusing to accept erroneous behavior as legitimate, we can actually reduce it.

As a metaphysician, I’ve seen firsthand the advantages of adding the weight of my thought on the side of incorruption and order. Rather than thinking of a city, a government, or an individual as irredeemably corrupt, or concluding that violence is a part of life that will forever find new means of expression, I can insist that God’s constant influence of calm, clarity, integrity, and goodness is continuously having its effect.

A few weeks ago, a rash of robberies occurred on two streets in my neighborhood. Victims were approached from behind while walking on the sidewalk, and they were knocked down and their belongings taken. When I learned of these incidents, I mentally protested that safety is the norm, and that fear cannot dominate in God’s kingdom. His children are not susceptible to crime, either as perpetrators or as victims. It never occurred to me to abandon my neighborhood to chaos—as a matter of fact, as I prayed I felt impelled to take a walk with my dog on those same two streets. It was a simple expression of a gentle, normal, fearless presence in the neighborhood that modeled in life what my prayer was affirming.

Over the next few days, the neighborhood rallied in unified protest and the perpetrators were apprehended.

Separating the crime from the individual is a fundamental in Christian Science. This can be a difficult point to reach—but if a violent act is thwarted without addressing the underlying cause in thought, the crime will continue and there will be a thousand others to carry it out. The prisons are already full.

Instead, each of us can think properly, prayerfully, about the issue of violent crime. Rather than responding with fear, we can insist that violence in our cities or our lives is not an unavoidable fact of life. And it isn’t—it’s an imposition without authority or power. There is no criminal intelligence. Crime is opportunistic non-intelligence. Our opportunity, and our responsibility to our neighbors around the world, is to reject the idea that crime has any spiritual legitimacy, and to separate it entirely from humanity. Mary Baker Eddy stated, “…those who discern Christian Science will hold crime in check. They will aid in the ejection of error. They will maintain law and order, and cheerfully await the certainty of ultimate perfection” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 96).

We can join hands in prayer with our neighbors around the world, including those in cities facing violent crime, such as the areas of Great Britain that have erupted in violence recently. Our spiritual reasoning resonates with something the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh once wrote: “If I can say anything to you, it is to invite you to look deeply and recognize the real enemy. That enemy is not a person. That enemy is a way of thinking that has brought a lot of suffering for everyone. This is an opportunity for us to sit down, be calm, and do just that—identify the real enemy and seek ways to remove it” (Peace Begins Here, p. 105).

When we succeed in separating crime from humanity, God’s children, we’ll realize that violence is not a “necessary evil.” This prayerful approach will not only enable us to support necessary and appropriate law enforcement measures to curb violence and give us safe cities and neighborhoods, but our communities will be filled with good citizens and neighbors, too. Our prayers will bring us closer to our rightful inheritance as Mrs. Eddy described it in Miscellaneous Writings: “Think of this inheritance! Heaven right here, where angels are as men… and men as angels who, burdened for an hour, spring into liberty, and the good they would do, that they do, and the evil they would not do, that they do not” (p. 251).

Article originally appeared in the Christian Science Sentinel, September 12, 2011.
Republished with permission of The Christian Science Publishing Society.