EIGHT o'clock Monday morning. The usual off-to-school rush. Notebooks, jackets, lunches. I ran out to warm up the car only to discover a gaping space along the sidewalk where we had parked the night before. For a moment I felt the way I do when I misplace my keys, but then of course I realized that I had not misplaced the car. It was gone. The police officer was very nice, but the outlook was discouraging. He reminded me that most stolen cars in our area are taken across the national border and stripped for parts.
One may come to expect rampant crime as a part of city living. Sometimes a feeling of futility, a sort of ``What can you do?'' attitude, creeps in. It puts us to sleep mentally. More important than finding the car was my need to prove that there is something we can do spiritually to stop crime. Human law, undergirded by what is divinely right, is not helpless.
Throughout that first day a verse from Psalms, referring to God, was vivid to me: ``Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.''1 To me, this statement points to the divine law, emanating from God Himself, which underlies life. In truth, God is the only power. Under His government, earth expresses order and law. Spiritual man -- our actual selfhood as God's reflection -- expresses justice and goodness. Crime is the antithesis of this order, the opposite of brotherly love. But no matter how deliberate someone's disregard or hatred for another might seem, it is possible to transform the trial into a demonstration of God's allness.
In spite of the fact that several weeks passed without any word from the police about our car, I could always feel this divine law working beneath the surface, so to speak. I stayed with Christ Jesus' statement ``Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.''2 Or, as The New English Bible translates this passage, ``Whatever you forbid on earth shall be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you allow on earth shall be allowed in heaven.''
To me, this was another way of saying that heaven's law of right appears as earth's law of justice. And when we acknowledge these two as coinciding, we see readjustment in our lives, a bringing together of what is right, moral, and honest.
After some time my husband and I became aware of an unusual, almost inexplicable, feeling for the person who had taken our car. It could only be described as love. We were approaching the Christmas holidays, and, somewhat ironically, we felt as though we were expecting a friend whom we were eager to see. This feeling was obviously God's love for all His children reflected in our own thought. Christ Jesus' admonition ``Love your enemies''3 is an anomaly to the human nature, so trained as it is in survival through domination. But Jesus' teachings point clearly to the Science of man's true, spiritual nature. Man, as the reflection of God, can never harm another.
One day I realized why I had never felt overwhelmed by loss. It was not I who had been robbed so much as the person who had taken our car. To let greed, dishonesty, a drug habit, or whatever other self-justified ``necessity'' take possession of one's own integrity -- this was the real theft.
A day or two later, through an arbitrary roadblock, our car was found by the highway patrol three states away. The car was in perfect condition, and the person who had stolen it was apprehended. This also marked the resolution of another crime, as there was a previous warrant out for this person's arrest. We later learned that the roadblock had been unusually successful that day, making possible the confiscation of stolen cars, drugs, and illegal weapons.
In one of her poems Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``Wait, and love more for every hate, and fear/No ill, -- since God is good, and loss is gain.''4 Certainly my initial loss was an ultimate gain. I learned that apathy and despair concerning city crime can be dissolved.
When we confront immorality of any kind with the power of divine Love and Truth, the negative human prognosis yields to the divine fact: God's law and His order undergird reality. As we align ourselves with this law through integrity of action and through acknowledgment that God does indeed govern all His creation, divine Truth demonstrates its own authority.
1Psalms 76:10. 2Matthew 18:18. 3See Matthew 5:44. 4Poems, p. 4.
BIBLE VERSE O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto thee?... The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them....Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face....The Lord is our defence; and the Holy One of Israel is our king. Psalms 89:8, 11, 14, 18