Victory Over Vandalism?

Bringing a spiritual perspective to world events and daily life.

Well, no . . . and yes! No, because as far as we know the perpetrators haven't been apprehended. But yes, the real victory is already ours. Let me explain.

This past summer, just as the peonies reached their peak in our garden alongside a busy city street, we came out one morning to find that all the blossoms had been cut off. Then in early autumn there was an assault on our chrysanthemums; just as they were beginning to share their muted colors with passersby, we found every mum uprooted and tossed under nearby bushes. It looked as though nothing could be salvaged.

Despite an initial feeling of devastation -- of anger that our space had been so callously violated and of frustration at hours of labor and money wasted-my wife and I turned to the Bible, to determine what the laws of God say about such situations. Christ Jesus said, according to the book of Luke, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (17:20, 21).

The message here is clear. As you and I turn our eyes -- and our earth-laden thoughts -- away from material possessions and things, we will grasp the inescapable fact that we cannot leave the kingdom of God. It is always within consciousness, awaiting our recognition. And that logical, undeviating line of reasoning can be extended even to our gardens; the beauty, harmony, peace, and joy they represent cannot be taken away.

A book called Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, written by Mary Baker Eddy, likens the Kingdom of Heaven to "the reign of harmony in divine Science; the realm of unerring, eternal, and omnipotent Mind; the atmosphere of Spirit, where Soul is supreme" (p. 590). That passage left me no doubt that "where Soul is supreme" there is no possibility of discord. Soul is a name for God, given by Mrs. Eddy in her explanation of Christian Science, which she discovered in 1866. The mists of mental confusion disperse in the warmth and power of Soul.

Let the vandals think they had invaded our privacy, shaken our peace of mind, destroyed our garden. We knew better! Nothing spiritual had changed. Nothing God created could be lost. Our awareness of God's infinite blessings was deep inside -- like the music in the heart of the character Andy in the movie Shawshank Redemption. Andy, an innocent victim of a miscarriage of justice, insisted that not even in solitary confinement could he lose the sense of freedom and the promise of redemption inspired by the music of Mozart, because, as he put it, it was "something inside that they can't get to . . . that they can't touch. It's yours."

We realized that it was the same for everyone working to enhance the gardens along our street. We were all motivated by an unselfish desire to share the beauty of nature with others. In this case, we saw plant growth as a metaphor for spiritual growth -- which, we knew from our study of the Bible, beautifies human character and brings fruitful and abundant lives.

Those intruders might have taken some perverse delight in vandalism, but that had no power to control our happiness-nor, ultimately, their path through life. If spiritual qualities could be uprooted or stolen, the perfection of God's creation would be a contradiction. The truth is that God's laws of good unerringly control all of us whether we know it or not. Evil cannot intrude or flourish in anyone's garden, literally or figuratively. In fact, evil cannot grow at all in the sight of anyone truly conscious of God's power.

This adjustment of thought gradually turned our emotional and financial loss to gain. My wife and I grew closer to God, to our fellow gardeners, and . . . even, in a sense, to the vandals! Within a few prayers, our serenity had been restored; and within a few days, we had been able to salvage most of the flowers and see them blooming again among the falling leaves. That was the moment for us to turn in gratitude to another well-loved passage in the Bible: "Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all" (I Chronicles 29:11).

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