“Je suis Charlie”. C’est vrai! Still in the middle of frantically evolving events the death toll in Paris is devastating – and it is as much a blow at individual lives as it is a blow at civil society – right in the heart of France. The country of liberté, égalité, fraternité. Some talked about the Paris massacre as a new 9/11 - a 1/7. Paris 1/7. A devastating tragedy which will change the ways again how we think about our time and how we interact with each other. I have not the right words at this moment, I listen and pray. And I went to my French teacher with a plant in red-white-blue (the colors of the French tricolore, the flag), we talked over coffee for five minutes – and then I left. I yearn to be constructive. And what more constructive can there be than to fortify thought?
A double homicide happened some years ago right in front of our house. I was an eye witness, I had called the police, I had to show up and give a report. In the following days my fear didn't abate, on the contrary. Anxiety and mistrust increased and didn't go away. For the first time ever I locked our front door and felt haunted. Sure, I had been incredibly close to a shocking outburst of violence with fatal consequences. Minutes before I had been outside, right there where the murder was committed. In deep despair I searched in Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy for a lifebelt. I couldn't continue to live with this fear, I needed to face it. I found this: "We should consecrate existence, not 'to the unknown God' whom we 'ignorantly worship,' but to the eternal builder, the everlasting Father, to the Life, which mortal sense cannot impair nor mortal belief destroy." (p. 428)
It struck me that my restlessness and fear stemmed from a horrid loss: My natural fundamental trust in people had been destroyed – a trust and love for people that did have something to do with my human nature but also with my earnest love for God and His/Her wonderful creation. This trust had been a guide in my daily affairs, and it felt as if now I had to learn to live without it.
But this council from the Bible commentary Science and Health showed me a different way how to "consecrate existence", my existence, in a productive way and how be a constructive influence for our world again - instead of feeling like a burden, a destructive weight on a world already loaden with tragedy, disaster, and meaningless nihilism. What I saw is this: Draw a clear line between mortal and spiritual life, between man as the child of God and between mortals. Make a conscientious effort to perceive spiritual life. See how fear and anxiety hide trust, goodness, and peace already here and understand why this Life cannot be impaired nor destroyed. I am grateful to say, that permanently my inner peace and love for good were restored and I could start to pray actively for the victims, support neighbors and continue to be part of the solution.
Today, I endeavor to turn my questions and fears into powerful prayers for safety and authentic peace. I take the active decision to step out of routine prayer into inspired listening and stillness. It is strengthening to know that we are not victims to our troubled thoughts: We can do something with them – and here the Bible has a proposal for us. In Isaiah we read, that the people of God "shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruninghooks." (Is. 2: 4). We can stop being scared and frightened and move over to the blacksmith's shop.
Like swords despair and fear cut through our inner peace as much as shock and distrust are spears perforating hope in a future. Let's bring them into the blacksmith's shop. It is natural to look beyond our own needs, embrace the victims and the perpetrators who choose to hide their natural goodness so completely. We can enlarge our "thought-field" and beat the mental swords of exasperation into spiritual plowshares for good, to multiply and feed many. There is open access to real goodness, no matter what. There is a Principle of goodness, and in proactively having taken our thoughts and having forged them into something useful we can step out of the blacksmith's shop again, and re-enter the field of thought with the right equipment. This is being constructive - it is stepping up, taking a stand for what's right, and ensuring that any sense of fear will not have the last word. When we see that instruments for war can be forged into equipment for harvest, we must accept that this involves work. Persistence, power, resilience. It will cost us something, but it must be done. Spirit is unseen but felt when we wait on our spiritual sense to speak clearly through the clamor of fears. It is the prerogative of Spirit, God, to be omnipresent. Many perspectives claim the throne - but only Spirit can ascend it.
I want to add that the murderer turned himself over to the police and is serving life imprisonment. Whether repenting or not - I don't know. But that he turned himself in, is promising.
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