As I write this, the first pictures of the explosions are still appearing on television. A mom, whose son works in the World Trade Towers and who she is unable to contact, has just called, requesting prayer. Much of the world, I am sure, is praying. The terrorist attacks in New York City and at the Pentagon push a stunned world even further in its search. The losses aren't even close to being numbered as this is being written. Nor is there any clue, yet, of who the perpetrators were. The search is for so very many things, but perhaps most of all, the search is for the safety of innocent people. And to comfort a shocked world.
What to do? Where to turn? There is comfort, there is healing, and there is safety to be found in the 91st Psalm. In it the psalmist says, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty...." Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day.... Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling."
As we begin to let the spiritual truth of this psalm displace our stunned disbelief over such mindless acts, we find it does bring assurance. It does help us remember the Almighty is at hand to comfort and to protect. It does help us to pray for those still missing, the wounded, those lost in the tragedies, their families, our own families, ourselves, the world.
God's love and protecting care are unconditional. There is nothing we do that makes God love or care for us more than He already infinitely does. But there is much we can do to consciously bring all humanity and ourselves into that "secret place of the most High." It's a place that's in thought, a mental and spiritual awareness of the presence and power of the Almighty. So it's accessible right where you are and to anyone, anywhere, in any kind of danger. And every prayerful reaching out to God, every glimpse that He provides a habitation where no evil can befall anyone, helps. That's the beauty of prayer. It points us to truths, spiritual facts, which fly in the face of horrible evidence right before us. In other words, we have a choice. Stay stunned by the horrible evidence. Or do something that makes a difference. Challenge that evidence with some spiritual conviction, no matter how slight, that God's love is more real, more powerful, than all the hatred ever hurled across the earth.
At times of tragedy we've all heard someone say: "I'll never believe in God again. How could He allow such horrific things to happen to so many innocent people?" While that sentiment is easy to understand, it's also unfortunate. Because, in one sense, what led to the tragedy in the first place was the misperception that life is godless, dangerous, material, without any secret places of the most High. If we were to reject God at this time, we would, in a way, be rejecting the one power that can bring relief and comfort. We would be siding with that barren view of life so foundational to the killers.
And we don't want to do that. The impulses that lead to such destruction are never found in the divine Mind that is God. But those evil impulses are an impossible intrusion on the Mind that neither makes nor permits destructive impulses. The Mind which is the one true force - always present with assurance, protection, and comfort. As we persist in prayerfully recalling the realness of the Mind which is God, the genuineness of His habitation of safety, and of other spiritual truths, it does make a difference. We're putting our weight on the side of solutions, on the side of healing.
The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, once wrote: "There is no door through which evil can enter, and no space for evil to fill in a mind filled with goodness. Good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort. And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 210).
As I write this last paragraph the mom has just called again. Her son is OK. That, at least, is a start. Let the prayers continue.