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‘Be still, and know …’ A victory over community violence

From the July 10, 2017 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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Some time ago, I started to look for news items in The Christian Science Monitor about national and global issues I could address prayerfully. I love that the Monitor covers the important issues of the day in a way that doesn’t sensationalize them or make us feel they’re insurmountable, but invites us to engage with readers around the world in prayer for their solution. 

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science and founder of the Monitor, expected that rather than ignore the problems that come to their attention, Christian Scientists would endeavor to bring the light of Truth to them.

The Bible says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10), and I’ve found it helpful to practice this spiritual stillness whenever I hear disturbing reports in the media or even among my friends. Such mental stillness is powerful because it is based on the understanding of God as All-in-all—as divine Truth, all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present. 

I take a few moments to recognize that the Christ, the spirit of Truth, is always active in human consciousness, separating fact from fiction. Christ is continuously showing me and all mankind what God knows and sees about His creation, and that the testimony of the mortal senses is a mirage, a lie, because that testimony does not come from God, or spiritual sense.

For instance, when terrifying images of violence and human suffering were coming out of Mosul, Syria, and later, London, after a violent attack there, I began in earnest to pray for that stillness of thought that would enable me to see that God is caring for every one of His children, no matter what the human picture presents. 

In my prayers, I acknowledged that God is in charge, and indeed ever present.

I knew from my study and practice of Christian Science that all discord is simply a belief in the absence of God, the carnal mind’s claim to hold our thinking to the fear that there can be a spot where God’s love is not present, and that there exists another power that can attempt to muscle in and take over from God. These terrifying images would rush us into reacting to them rather than reflecting on what God is and what He is doing—on what is true and has the only power. 

In my prayers, I acknowledged that God is in charge, and indeed ever present, and that there is no place where His love is not felt, and where He is not governing His creation harmoniously. I also knew that the Christ is speaking to me, to all of us. In fact, Christ is the only communicator, and communicates only God’s thoughts, which are good. These thoughts bring peace and healing to our own communities, as I learned some time ago. 

Allow me to explain. My husband and I run a small poultry business in South Africa, although the running of the business is left up to me mainly, and my husband runs his own business. I have many customers who come to me to buy pure-bred poultry. Among my regulars was a man I shall call Mr. X, who was a cabinet minister in our parliament. He was also the chief executive officer (CEO) of a taxi service operating here on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal.

Taxis in South Africa (in all of Africa) are minibuses that carry up to twenty passengers, and run the length and breadth of the country. There were two very large operators of these taxis, and competition between them became fierce as government has never put in place any government-owned or -run bus service to allow people in rural areas access to public transport. 

This opened the door wide to corrupt taxi owners who then cashed in on the need for transport. Taxi wars, as they were called, became violent with passengers being pulled out of their taxis and beaten to death or shot for supporting the “wrong” taxi franchise. Things escalated to such an extent that I spoke to Mr. X and asked him what was being done to rectify the violent situation.

He told me that criminal elements had taken the law into their own hands, and were enforcing their own agenda on taxi passengers, but that this was never what he wanted, or what Mr. Y (the operator of the other taxi franchise) wanted. Unfortunately, because of the criminal element involved, they could never meet face to face to sort it all out as it was very dangerous for both of them.

Having one God, one Mind, one consciousness,—which includes only His own nature,—and loving your neighbor as yourself, constitute Christian Science, which must demonstrate the nothingness of any other state or stage of being.

—Mary Baker Eddy, No and Yes, p. 38

 

I sat and thought about all this, and it came to me not to accept what was being paraded before me as fact. In No and Yes Mrs. Eddy writes: “It is Truth’s knowledge of its own infinitude which forbids the genuine existence of even a claim to error. This knowledge is light wherein there is no darkness,—not light holding darkness within itself” (p. 30). 

I saw that Truth’s infinitude included me and every one of us as God’s ideas, and that there is nothing unlike good—not even the claim of division or competition or violence—existing in this infinitude. It seemed the only solution would be a meeting between the two. I also saw that personal viewpoints, either my own or that of the population at large, had no power to influence the outcome of any meeting between these two franchises. There are no personal viewpoints in divine Mind; there is only one Mind, or God—and every man, woman, and child reflects this one and only Mind. This truth dismantles the belief that there can be divisive interests, competition, or even violence among God’s children.

Referring to the mental argument of Truth against error in prayer, Mrs. Eddy wrote in a letter to one of her students, “Never recognize the person in your argument … but make yourself so conscious of the opposite Truth that the error disappears” (L05468, Mary Baker Eddy to Ann Otis, April 12, 1893, © The Mary Baker Eddy Collection).

I endeavored to do this in my prayers and not dwell on the personalities involved. I knew that the one Mind was the source of my intelligence and the intelligence of the two people concerned in the discussion. There is not a shred of ego, or personality, or mortal thought in the divine Mind, or in its reflection, man. Christ Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done,” not “My will be done.” I gave up any attempt to outline the outcome of the meeting and left it to God. I could go forward in confidence and know that I was not battling alone in a sea of discord. I was on the side of good, and good is always victorious.

A week later Mr. X contacted me to ask if it would be possible to hold a meeting at my farm, between himself and Mr. Y, to reach a possible solution. He asked that no one be told. It was a neutral venue, and he felt it was right to meet here. I accepted without really knowing what was about to come through my gates.

Several days later, on the appointed day, along came several black luxury vehicles all with tinted windows, and out of these vehicles alighted Mr. X and several heavily armed bodyguards, with semiautomatic weapons. Out of another vehicle alighted Mr. Y also with several heavily armed men.

This was not what I had agreed to! I put my foot down and said they could come in, talk as much as they wanted, but no weapons would be allowed. The weapons and the bodyguards should wait outside the perimeter of my fence. I allowed only Mr. X and Mr. Y inside; and, more important, allowed only the consciousness of God’s presence and power to enter my thought and spiritual home.

I wonder if we realize just how powerful our prayers are to change our world.

The two men accepted my demand, and I left the others, and their weapons, outside. I sat and prayed silently, in spiritual stillness, knowing that my Father had orchestrated this meeting and that His word would be heard. The Lord said, “It [my word] shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please” (Isaiah 55:11). It had to produce a good result. I also knew that there could be no agreement in matter, but in the one common Mind of us all, and that only the Christ was present at this meeting to influence thought—for the good of all. 

The two men spoke at length all day, and eventually left late in the afternoon, thanked me, and said it had been productive. From that day forward no more taxi violence was seen in our area. Later I learned there had been an agreement signed, and that the criminal elements involved had decided to leave. News bulletins stopped covering the whole subject as it had become boring and non-violent, not at all good for sensational journalism.

I wonder if we realize just how powerful our prayers are to change our world, to bring greater peace and genuine progress. We have ample opportunities to witness their effect in our own homes and communities as we take up the issues that come to us in our daily prayers. Although we may not always see the outcome of those prayers, they are leavening the whole lump of mortal thought. Never doubt it.

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