Thousands of Kosovar refugees, forced out of their homes, fleeing into neighboring countries. The whole thing is beyond heart-wrenching.
We can, of course, contribute financially and support agencies that provide humanitarian aid. And we can pray. God, being impartial and universal, loves each one of these people. And it's prayer that can help God's love be felt in tangible ways.
Also, when you become aware of specific problems the refugees face, your prayers can target those specifics. For example, one of the most serious issues, besides the lack of basic human necessities, is loss of identity. Many people have told of being stripped of all identification papers before being driven out of Kosovo. In addition, most identify themselves strongly with their own villages or towns. They want to return. Furthermore, they're fundamentally identified by ethnic origin - this is why they've suffered the brutalities of ethnic cleansing to begin with.
When our ultimate sense of identity is rooted in geography or language or religion or wealth or social status - or even ethnicity - it can prove vulnerable. People may be left asking, "Who am I?" They might feel like the "wanderers" described in this sentence: "Without natures particularly defined, objects and subjects would be obscure, and creation would be full of nameless offspring, - wanderers from the parent Mind, strangers in a tangled wilderness" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, pg. 507).
"Nameless." "Wanderers." "Stran-gers in a tangled wilderness." "Without natures particularly defined." These seem apt descriptions of the refugees. But the sentence prior to the one just quoted presents an identity that can never be lost. It says, "Spirit names and blesses all."
Spirit is a biblical name for God. And the Bible defines each refugee as made in God's likeness. This is the underlying identity of everyone, everywhere. If God names or identifies all, then identity must be from Spirit - spiritual. In which case, it cannot be material. And because God is universal, not one of His children is displaced. Even if, through dire circumstances, people are moved from one country to another - even if they lose homes, family ties, geographical roots - they carry with them their permanent, indestructible spiritual identity.
Science and Health interprets the last words of Psalm 23, "I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever," as dwelling forever in "the consciousness" of Love, of God (pg. 578). Here's the true dwelling place of every son and daughter of God. It is a genuinely mobile home, since our consciousness goes with us wherever we go. It must be this spiritual definition of identity that the prophet Isaiah referred to when he wrote, "And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land" (Isa. 32:2).
A comforting promise. And because the winds, tempests, dry places, and weariness of the refugees are so severe right now that no inkling of that promise may be visible to them, our prayers can be critical forces of humanitarian aid - independent of distance or language barriers. To nurture in our thoughts the fact that not one of these people is, really, a nameless wanderer, uprooted from a right sense of place and identity, is prayer. To recognize that each actually carries with him or her the indestructible identity bestowed by Spirit, and the permanent home that is the consciousness of Love, is prayer.
It's true that thinking from this spiritual standpoint uplifts the thinker. But the effect of this prayer doesn't stop there. By no means. It goes much further. It's tuning in to God's universal law. Imagine yourself in a large room full of people, where silence prevails. That room is nevertheless filled with radio waves. When just one radio receiver is tuned in to a station broadcasting uplifting music, the room is filled with a harmony that envelops everyone there.
This hints at what far-reaching blessing can result from one individual's tuning in prayerfully to the fact that God's love embraces all refugees, and all humanity, without exception.