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SENTINEL WATCH

PRAYER FOR OUR SCHOOLS AND CHILDREN

From the September 3, 2007 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION'S website, schools "continue to be one of the most secure places for our children," statistically speaking. But the NEA's "Safe Schools Program" for communities and schools shows that it isn't ignoring conditions that can lead to violence. It aims, among other things, to reduce bullying, provide resources for counseling and anger-management, increase communication among parents, teachers, and students, and introduce programs that teach values.

I saw only cooperation while I was helping out at a community fair a few weeks ago. I enjoyed watching the children make masks, have their faces painted, fly kites, and just plain have fun. They were serious, funny, self-assured, cute, and earnest. And perhaps most precious of all was the joyful innocence that shone through even the tougher looking ones.

That experience reminded me again of the importance of praying for the safety of children and their schools. No one wants the innocence and joy of children to be marred by fear or by horrible memories. And prayer provides an effective and what could be called a "zero-tolerance" response to addressing children's safety.

In Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "Mind, joyous in strength, dwells in the realm of Mind. Mind's infinite ideas run and disport themselves" (p. 514). That passage always makes me think of children, but it also reminds me that all of us are children of divine Mind, of infinite intelligence. I can trust that Mind will show each one what to do, even in the face of unexpected events that might be frightening or confusing. Each of us has the ability to trust our spiritual intuition and let it guide us out of harm's way.

One example from Mrs. Eddy's own life is the time when, at age eight, she stood up to an older classmate who was terrorizing the other children. In the face of her determination, the girl backed down, and Mary continued to protect the others until the harassment stopped. She wrote, "The teacher confessed to me that I had done what whipping had failed to do, for I had completely changed her character" (Irving Tomlinson, Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy, pp. 4-5).

Sometimes violent events occur so suddenly that school officials or teachers may be overcome by the situation or feel uncertain about what to do. Our prayers can affirm that they too are ideas of divine intelligence, and can make good decisions, even under pressure.

Recently, a major accident a few blocks from a school where the child of a friend of mine was enrolled, included elements no one could have foreseen. Both my friend and I were praying, and I'm sure many others who knew of the situation prayed, as well. Individuals at the school remained calm, assessed the situation, and made good choices so all the children were safe.

Clearly, there are more dramatic events, such as the shootings that took place at Virginia Tech in the US and other, less publicized, incidents involving estranged parents, drug dealers, and so on. These tragedies serve to underscore the value of diligent, consistent prayer. By recognizing that good is infinite, we effectively eliminate belief in a countering evil presence or attraction. Taking a few minutes each day to affirm that infinite Mind is present with all its intelligence and goodness, can neutralize the very thought that someone could act contrary to that one Mind.

The definition of good in the Glossary of Science and Health includes the word omni-action (p. 587). This makes clear that "good" is a force that can change the dynamic of any situation for the better. And because omniaction rejects the possibility of an opposing force, good's omniactivity disarms any evil actions or intentions.

A commitment to good, counters the belief that there can be insiders and outsiders, cliques or clashes among students. Since good is infinite, all have full access to its blessings. No one is left out.

If we take the time to affirm at least some of these truths, great good can be done. Jesus taught the importance of cherishing and loving children. As he put it, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3). Every time we rejoice in the innocence and goodness of children and do all we can to preserve these qualities, we are affirming our own unblemished purity. And that brings us ever closer to the kingdom of heaven where goodness, harmony and safety reign. i ♦

PRAYER PROVIDES AN EFFECTIVE-AND WHAT COULD BE CALLED A "ZERO-TOLERANCE" -RESPONSE TO ADDRESSING CHILDREN'S SAFETY.

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