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CONTAMINATED WATERS AND PRAYER'S PURIFYING EFFECT

From the October 4, 2010 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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ALTHOUGH THE FLOW OF OIL from the Deepwater Horizon well into the Gulf of Mexico has been stopped, environmental concerns surrounding the spill continue to make the news. For example, even as the oil is being broken down by natural processes, underwater plumes and droplets are reported to be creeping toward the state of Florida, where I live. It can seem daunting to try to maintain the integrity of our water, as it often seems so vulnerable to contamination. And even though water pollution doesn't always occur on a national level, as it has in the Gulf, smaller-scale pollution is still a concern for many.

In my prayers about the issue of pollution, I've thought about a Bible verse that talks about God's abundant resources: "O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches" (Ps. 104:24). By bearing witness to this spiritual abundance, the prayers of each one of us can play a powerful role in revealing solutions to the issue of pollution.

I have a wonderful friend who saw the effect of her thinking on a problem of water pollution. She and another friend decided to open up a tearoom. They found a property they liked and made an offer, contingent on the well water being of acceptable quality for a restaurant. Everything looked good until results of the water test came back, showing that the water was polluted. They were given instructions on how to clear up this problem, and though they followed these instructions carefully more than once, subsequent water tests came up with almost identical results: The well was still polluted.

My friend is a lifelong Christian Scientist, and is in the habit of praying for the resolution of problems in her life, so she decided to listen to God for a solution. She later told me she was sure that the tearoom was a good idea, but she couldn't understand why the water continued to be polluted. Then, she said she realized she was feeling a great deal of animosity toward someone involved in the sale of the property, and felt that this person was trying to cheat her. But her prayer about the polluted well caused her to see that she couldn't be feeling animosity toward one of God's children and at the same time expect to be blessed by God. Right then she resolved to have only loving thoughts toward this individual. Whenever she thought of this individual, she thought of qualities such as goodness, love, generosity, honesty, and so forth. Keeping her thought in line with the goodness of God and all of God's children helped purify her own thinking. She felt a sense of peace about the tearoom. The very next test on the water showed that the water was no longer polluted. Soon thereafter, the city health officials approved the quality of the water, and the tearoom was opened for business.

I've been thinking about this experience in relation to concerns about water pollution in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere. I know from my study of Christian Science that God made man in His image and likeness. And as it says in the book of Genesis, "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Gen. 1:31). Each of us can prayerfully contribute to the resolution of this issue; keeping our thoughts loving and aligned with spiritual truth does have an effect on the situation.

In my prayers, I've thought of the Bible story where the prophet Elisha faced a situation of bad water in a city. He asked for a container of salt. As he sprinkled the salt into the city's water he said, "Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land" (see II Kings 2:19-22). Is this story just referring to an isolated incident from thousands of years ago? No—it has relevance to our prayers today. Elisha saw that pollution is not an intractable problem. Since it doesn't represent qualities that come from God, pollution has no real power or spiritual legitimacy. And we, too, can put into practice this spiritual lesson.

Nothing is beyond God's loving control, and we can always humbly turn to Him for solutions to our problems. Our prayers, denying the reality of pollution, uphold the spiritual ideal of purity. And they not only promote safety for ourselves but are a way of loving our neighbors, too. As Mrs. Eddy wrote, "In the scientific relation of God to man, we find that whatever blesses one blesses all, as Jesus showed with the loaves and the fishes,—Spirit, not matter, being the source of supply" (Science and Health, p. 206).

OUR PRAYERS UPHOLD THE SPIRITUAL IDEAL OF PURITY.

Each of us can play a role in preventing pollution in our communities and around the world. When we pray to behold ourselves and all of creation as pure and spiritual, we can expect to see the results of the Psalmist's promise that "the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof" (Ps. 24:1).

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Katherine Leech lives in Floral City, Florida.

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