As much as I love my children, the prospect of a Saturday to myself was delicious to contemplate. My solitude was suddenly interrupted by loud banging on the front door. An irate woman proceeded to report that my son and his friends had just run through her yard, breaking down her flowers. It was obvious I wasn't going to be allowed to explain that he had left the night before on a camping trip.
Standing there on the firing line, I prayed earnestly about how to handle this situation. Simply reacting on the same level of emotion certainly wasn't the answer. The mental atmosphere had to change before we could even communicate. What was happening here? The trouble went beyond broken flowers. My neighbor felt victimized, alienated, and unloved by those around her. She needed to feel loved and appreciated.
But how could I possibly love someone who was shouting at me and making false accusations, much less get a word in edgewise? The desire to help was, of itself , a prayer, and it was answered. When silence finally came, I found myself saying I could surely understand her concern because I, too, loved flowers. When my son returned from his weekend camping trip, I would ask him to speak to his friends about playing away from her place.
The tight lines of anger in her face relaxed. ''I watch you leave for work every morning,'' she said. ''Are you raising these children by yourself? Must be hard. I know what it's like to be alone.'' I thanked her. Walking abruptly toward the sidewalk, she turned and asked if I would have time to come for a visit someday. I would indeed. There were no more complaints.
Wasn't this example of a peaceful solution to inharmony and injustice an indication of what's possible on a worldwide scale? Mankind is crying out for peace, not only in the face of war but in response to individual struggles with sin, disease, and decline. In his Sermon on the Mount, Christ Jesus tells us, ''Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.'' n 1
n1 Matthew 5:9.
How could Jesus stand, on different occasions, before an adulterous woman, a leper, his friend Lazarus, who had died, and bring healing and peace? He couldn't have accepted as fundamental reality the inverted image of man as a sinful or diseased mortal. He must have acknowledged as truth only God's creation of man as His image and likeness - spiritual and forever perfect.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes: '' 'Love one another' (I John, iii. 23), is the most simple and profound counsel of the inspired writer. In Science we are children of God; but whatever is of material sense, or mortal, belongs not to His children, for materiality is the inverted image of spirituality.'' n2
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 572.
So how do we become peacemakers? We can begin by refusing to accept the report of the physical senses - the evidence of anger, injustice, anxiety, deceit - as either immovable or God-created. Through our innate, God-given spiritual sense we need to perceive man's true selfhood as lovable and loving. Clearly, this isn't always easy. But ultimately we can't help cultivating a true , spiritual view of creation and experiencing the blessings this brings. ''In Science, man is the manifest reflection of God, perfect and immortal Mind,'' Mrs. Eddy says. ''He is the likeness of God; and His likeness would be lost if inverted or perverted.'' n3
n3 Rudimental Divine Science, p. 7.
Because God is omnipresent, the love that He alone confers is always present and ready to be more widely expressed in everyday living. Our living of it begins with our family and neighbors and spreads to the world. DAILY BIBLE VERSE I . . . beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are caled, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace . . . Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:1 - 3, 32