Several years ago my husband and I drove from our home in New York to Indiana for my annual Christian Science association meeting. We planned it as a two-day trip with an overnight in Ohio, where our daughter and son-in-law were eager for us to stay in their recently-purchased house, though they were out of town.
We arrived in the area well after dark and found the parking lot my daughter had noted as a landmark in the directions she’d given us. I waited in the car with our poodle as my husband walked down a very dark street to read house numbers.
Suddenly the dog started barking furiously, and as I looked back I saw two young men approaching. They told me to give them my purse, which I did; and then one of them went over to my husband, who was returning to the car, and held him at gunpoint and demanded money. He gave them some, but didn’t give them the bills that were deep in a pocket of his shorts. I saw this as a proof of God’s care for us, as we really needed that cash to finish our drive the next day.
While that man stood guard by my husband, the other man stayed with me at the car. He threatened to shoot our poodle if it didn’t stop barking and then demanded my jewelry. I was able to calm our dog down, but one of my rings was so tight I just couldn’t get it off my finger. The man told me that I’d better hand it over or he would shoot my finger off.
I felt a change in my thought and found myself able to forgive those men.
As I struggled with the ring, I wanted to share with this man that he was the perfect child of God. I hesitated, though, because he had a gun pointed at me and I didn’t know what his reaction would be, but the words came out anyway. Suddenly everything came to a halt as the man stopped threatening me. He said to his buddy, who was still with my husband, “Let’s go.” The other man mumbled something I couldn’t hear, but the one with me said, “We don’t have time for that,” and they took off with my purse and other jewelry I had given them.
My husband returned to the car, and we drove a few blocks to a convenience store, where we called the police, who arrived very quickly. They helped us find my daughter’s house, took down all the information about the incident, unloaded our car for us, and helped us figure out how to get the garage door open so we could keep our car safely inside.
I called a Christian Science practitioner and briefly told her my purse had been stolen. She assured me that in God’s kingdom everything is intact, and she lovingly agreed to pray. I didn’t sleep a wink that night; I was concerned about losing what was in my purse and upset at the two men. As I turned my thought to God and considered the idea of “intactness,” I gained a better sense of the two men’s (and everyone’s) wholeness as God’s children. I don’t remember all the details of how I prayed, but I know it was uplifting because I felt a change in my thought and found myself able to forgive those men.
The next morning a police officer came to the door, carrying my purse. He told us that very early that morning, a man who lived in another part of the city had found the purse in his yard and called the police. I looked inside to find everything intact, except for a few dollars. I was so grateful for the honesty of the man who had turned in the purse, the helpfulness and kindness of the police, and the practitioner’s support.
Later, at my association meeting, I was just filled with Christly love for the two individuals who had confronted us. With every word of the association address, I saw their true innocence and perfection as God’s children. It was a holy experience!
I may never know what paths those two men have followed, but I do believe that their thought must have been touched in some way by this experience just as mine was, and I’m grateful for that. As Mary Baker Eddy says in her poem “Christ My Refuge,”
My prayer, some daily good to do
To Thine, for Thee;
An offering pure of Love, whereto
God leadeth me.
(Poems, p. 13)
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