What to do in times like these
In the last years and months and days I welcomed individuals to my Christian Science Practice from at least five different countries with a special need: Heartbreak because of the political situation in their respective countries. I welcomed them into my office, I received calls or iMessages, WhatsApp notes or texts, Emails or written letters. And I heard or read varieties of sentences like "I don't recognize my country any more" or "I can't take this division any longer" or "I thought things where improving but no".
This morning very early I received more calls on this subject and I listened some more and prayed. And two useful qualities came to thought that open a door and give every one of us something to do and care about - and discover. It is perhaps a little comfort that Jesus did introduce the new spiritual way of living in a time of ecclesiastical tyranny and political and military reign of violence - meaning, that our times are in no way worse than Jesus' time. His example stands.
So the first quality is love - compassion, empathy, real listening. Whatever the political situation or moment, people will always be people and need and deserve love, kindness, empathy, and respect. Compassion. There are babies born, kindergarten kids entering first grade, middle school students finishing 9th grade. Children everywhere need a future, people need jobs, housing, spouses, friendships; means and ways to bring food on the table and peace into their homes. People need care and love, heavy hearts wait for repose, the sick need healing, the marginalized to be reinstated into their proper state. Welfare, aid, relief are important points. Landmines are waiting to be removed, the plastic issue will have a constructive solution and animals across the world wait to be respected and helped. Homeless need shelter, refugees a warm welcome (and winter boots), sadness a meaningful response, racism a healing reply, grief a shoulder to cry on, despair an answer how loss can be gain. Our planet deserves our full attention, more than ever our prayerful, active care, and life everywhere is precious.
There is no way that the main goal for humanity can be overlooked when we perceive the bigger picture: Life is all about Love.
The second quality is preservation. When studying my beloved Bible lesson - the peace building activity of Christian Science for our world -, it occurred to me to reconsider the word "preservation". The topic this week is "God the Preserver of man", and Psalm 37 reads: "You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance." (NKJV) This promise is granted by God, the "You" in this Psalm, divine Love, supreme Truth, unending Life. So Love is preserving us, and Love is Truth and Life. Love is our Preserver.
When you think about the different meanings of the word "preserve", you might also look into your pantry and remember what "preservation" can do to fruits and vegetables. With preservation they certainly survive the winter. Love is our Preserver and ensures our survival. It keeps us sane and productive. Since Love is our Preserver, learning to love is the means of preservation. This is how we pray for better things. This is how we help each other to grow in grace, together. This is how we survive the winter.
"TEACH ME TO LOVE"
There was a time when in my daily prayer
I asked for all the things I deemed most fair,
And necessary to my life,—success,
Riches, of course, and ease, and happiness;
A host of friends, a home without alloy;
A primrose path of luxury and joy,
Social distinction, and enough of fame
To leave behind a well-remembered name.
Ambition ruled my life. I longed to do
Great things, that all my little world might view
And whisper, "Wonderful!"
Ah, patient God,
How blind we are, until Thy shepherd's rod
Of tender chastening gently leads us on
To better things! To-day I have but one
Petition, Lord—Teach me to love. Indeed,
It is my greatest and my only need --
Teach me to love, not those who first love me,
But all the world, with that rare purity
Of broad, outreaching thought which bears no trace
Of earthly taint, but holds in its embrace
Humanity, and only seems to see
The good in all, reflected, Lord, from Thee.
And teach me, Father, how to love the most
Those who most stand in need of love— that host
Of people who are sick and poor and bad,
Whose tired faces show their lives are sad,
Who toil along the road with footsteps slow,
And hearts more heavy than the world can know--
People whom others pass discreetly by,
Or fail to hear the pleading of that cry
For help, amid the tumult of the crowd;
Whose very anguish makes them cold and proud,
Resentful, stubborn, bitter in their grief--
I want to bring them comfort and relief,
To put my hand in theirs, and at their side
Walk softly on, a faithful, fearless guide.
O Saviour, thou the Christ, Truth, ever near,
Help me to feel these sad ones doubly dear
Because they need so much! Help me to seek
And find that which they thought was lost; to speak
Such words of cheer that as we pass along
The wilderness shall blossom into song.
Ah, Love divine, how empty was that prayer
Of other days! That which was once so fair,--
Those flimsy baubles which the world calls joys
Are nothing to me now but broken toys,
Outlived, outgrown. I thank Thee that I know
Those much-desired dreams of long ago,
Like butterflies, have had their summer's day
Of brief enchantment, and have gone. I pray
For better things.
Thou knowest, God above,
My one desire now—Teach me to love.
Louise Knight Wheatley
(from the Christian Science Journal)
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In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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