I'm not sure what my reaction would have been to the news: A tornado is headed right in the direction of your movie theater, which is filled with people engrossed in their films. I hope I would have responded with as much strength and leadership as the man in Van Wert, Ohio, who moved all the people in his theater to safety while a tornado blew off the roof and dropped two cars into the row of seats where some children had been sitting.
At first I thought it must have taken courage not to be afraid, but then I realized that in the most desperate times, it is often an intuitive response that meets the need of the hour. I believe that intuition is the way God speaks to me. When there isn't much time to sit and ponder all the options before making a quick decision, I have to trust that my faith in God's ability to speak to me in the way I need to hear, right when I need to hear it, is greater than my ability to figure things out on my own.
As I prayed for all the families that lost loved ones in the recent storms, I began thinking more about the nature of God and the evidence of divine care in our lives. It's so tempting to explain away destructive acts by placing responsibility on something divine. But I know that when intuition whispers the exact thought that is needed in a stressful moment, this stillness of divine Love brings protection and peace, not destruction and devastation.
God is not the source of turbulence, but is instead the Love that comforts and calms. The evidence of God's power in tough times is seen in the qualities of grace, compassion, and community spirit that quiet fear and frustration. Understanding the true nature of God as Love and Life, not as the source of terror, assures us that there is a clear sense of control of life.
The man in the theater felt calm enough to know how to protect his customers. This incident reminds me of characters in the Bible who felt the same kind of spiritual sense in times of trouble.
Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Monitor, wrote about one of these characters: "Understanding the control which Love held over all, Daniel felt safe in the lions' den..." ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 514).
Another way I prayed for those affected by the tornadoes was to know that Love is a powerful influence in our lives. We can let that divine influence, which is actually speaking to us each moment, keep us from fixating on haunting images of destruction.
I remember feeling vividly this divine influence several years ago when I was haunted by painful memories. Throughout my childhood and into my high school years, I was afraid to go to sleep at night. I would feel disturbed before bed and then often woke up during the night, afraid or uncomfortable.
During the last years of high school, I learned how to pray. An older friend shared with me a passage from a book we both studied, and for the first time since I could remember, I didn't go to sleep afraid. These words were very comforting to me: "... if you fall asleep, actually conscious of the truth of Christian Science, - namely, that man's harmony is no more to be invaded than the rhythm of the universe, - you cannot awake in fear or suffering of any sort" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Retrospection and Introspection," pg. 61).
As I continue to think about the families in those areas of the world that have recently experienced loss of any kind, I know that the same harmony that I now feel when I lie down to sleep at night offers comfort and blessing to every individual worldwide. Their prayers for peace will not go unanswered.
In heavenly Love abiding,
No change my heart shall fear;
And safe is such confiding,
For nothing changes here.
The storm may roar without me,
My heart may low be laid;
But God is round about me,
And can I be dismayed?
Christian Science Hymnal