There Are No Refugees From Paradise

Bringing a spiritual perspective to world events and daily life.

AN article in this newspaper made it clear to me what a hard time refugees are now having. Previously generous nations are closing their borders to new immigrants, or increasing the strictness of the criteria for entering.

My own parents had to flee their homes in the Second World War. If our present homeland hadn't allowed them in, my parents would have been stranded, without an escape route from certain death.

As the child of refugee parents I had to contend with an insecure sense of nationality. I loved our adopted land in many ways, but felt permanently unsure of my attachment to it. Neither did I feel any connection whatsoever with the nation my parents had left behind-a country I had never known, whose people had allowed my grandparents and family friends to be massacred or expelled. I felt I'd never feel properly at home anywhere!

When in my early twenties, I finally did find a permanent homeland of my own; a spiritual homeland, one that made me feel much more at home in my family's adopted country and that enabled me to feel very much more at peace about the land we'd left behind. I discovered a "country" that goes by the name of "the land of Christian Science." The Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, used this term in discussing her discovery of the healing laws of God. Her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures includes this: "I saw before me the awful conflict, the Red Sea and the wilderness; but I pressed on through faith in God, trusting Truth, the strong deliverer, to guide me into the land of Christian Science, where fetters fall and the rights of man are fully known and acknowledged" (pp. 226-227).

Perhaps we could say that the author of this passage was herself a refugee. Mrs. Eddy fled from a commonly accepted, limited, material sense of life and intelligence-including all pain, suffering, and evil-to the true, spiritual sense of being. In doing this she was following in the path mapped out for us all by Christ Jesus almost two thousand years ago. Jesus knew that each of us already lives in a state of perfection that is accessible to all, through prayer and Christian living. The Gospel of Luke records that once, when threatened, Jesus escaped a mob endeavoring to throw him to his death from the edge of a cliff. We read that he simply "pass[ed] through the midst of them" and "went his way" (4:30). His spiritual understanding must have brought him this perfect protection from hatred and conspiracy. The boundaries of this understanding still encompass you and me today. We, as God's children, still have open access to the refuge of spiritual understanding that Jesus proved to be always present. God alone establishes security and identity for all.

In contrast, the Bible story of Adam and Eve depicts a mortal view of man as vulnerable to sin and danger. Man is portrayed as a refugee from paradise. Adam and Eve have to flee from the garden of Eden after having sinned. Christian Science shows that this, however, is a picture of how things are not. Why? Because man is God's perfect creation. Man, the image of God, is not a sinner. The belief that you and I are on the run from anything is therefore wholly erroneous, only a misstatement of the spiritual existence Jesus came to reveal. Spiritual existence is serene, safe, and stable.

I have learned from the Bible to turn wholeheartedly to God in order to pray for the refugees of this world. I see more clearly that their plight is ultimately part of the unjust-and untrue-story of man as a refugee from harmony. In my prayers, I affirm that all men and women are always at home in God. This is spiritual truth.

We can actively help refugees; we can, through prayer, help lessen the world's fear-the fear that some individuals might never find permanent homes, or that the world might not have room for all its citizens. In "the land of Christian Science"-the understanding of God's laws-everyone belongs.

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