Step one--cleaning up thought
AT least twice a week the mailbox is sure to have a collection of fliers and advertisements. As the holiday season got into full swing the volume doubled. We live in what's termed ``cluster housing,'' units of condominiums and town houses snugged up together. Each cluster has mailboxes that look like honeycombs with doors. For several weeks during this heavy-volume period, the area was littered with ``sale'' fliers, some floating down the gutter on rainy days or scattering in all directions on windy ones. I reacted mildly in the beginning, but later with a full head of steam and some very unchristian thoughts about the people responsible.
In this frame of mind I found an address label on a stack that hadn't become airborne yet. I was tempted to gather them up and put them over the guilty party's fence.
But revenge--even in a minor matter--wasn't, and never had been, my style! Then I realized this wasn't my thinking at all but the impersonal, vengeful carnal-mindedness that would have one ``get even.'' I had simply let in this false thinking, which was not only unchristian but hypocritical. I had been praying for world peace, for an end of terrorism, for the replacing of hate with love. Now I had the opportunity to ``let it begin with me.''
Taking the papers back home, I laid them on my desk, turning to God for the next step. My own concept of things was where the trouble really existed at this moment, and that concept needed changing. Christ Jesus taught, ``First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.'' 1
The Way-shower admonished us to love one another and not to condemn or judge superficially. Wasn't love the very keynote of his ministry, and central to his healing of both sickness and sin?
The masses didn't come to him after they had stopped sinning. He loved them first. How did he love them? By first loving God, the sole cause and creator, and beholding the perfect man--everyone's true selfhood--made in His image. I wasn't being asked to love a litterbug, but to love the child of God, who is loving, orderly, peaceful. Not loving this neighbor would actually be breaking the commandment ``Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.'' 2 Being disgusted with a thoughtless mortal wasn't bearing witness to his actual, God-created nature. The ball really was in my court.
It wasn't any more normal for my neighbor to litter the area than it was for me to disregard his spiritual identity or seek revenge. In truth we were under the guidance of the same Mind--God. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, says, ``When we realize that there is one Mind, the divine law of loving our neighbor as ourselves is unfolded; whereas a belief in many ruling minds hinders man's normal drift towards the one Mind, one God, and leads human thought into opposite channels where selfishness reigns.'' 3 That ``normal drift'' had to be encouraged, beginning with me.
Because the note I then wrote was motivated by love, it flowed effortlessly. I agreed that the onslaught of fliers was undoubtedly disturbing to many in the community, and I could understand their feeling of frustration. Perhaps we could join in an antilitter campaign to beautify the condominium area. The letter ended with a warm and genuine holiday greeting.
Mrs. Eddy writes, ``Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.'' 4 I felt the words of the letter were appropriate, and the deed came easily. That was the end of the litter problem.
Opportunities to be peacemakers in a troubled world come to us in some form every day. I almost missed one, but willingness to listen and turn to God solved the problem and gave me a better concept of my fellow beings. We can indeed trust our desires to God.
1 Matthew 7:5. 2 Exodus 20:16. 3 Sci- ence and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 205. 4 Ibid., p. 1. DAILY BIBLE VERSE The desire of the righteous is only good. Proverbs 11:23