When I hear saddening news of yet another man being arrested on charges of murdering or abusing his spouse or children, I yearn to be of help. What can be done to help people learn how to control violent impulses and to express more patience and love?
Prayer can powerfully protect people from becoming victims of violence. I've seen prayer disarm the destructive impulses that gripped a man I knew, who often let anger or hate take over his thinking.
He hadn't learned how to express much self-control, but when he became hate-filled and threatening, he responded to my prayer and the prayer of others by becoming calm and grateful.
So if someone learns how to pray with the omnipotence and nearness of God's love, everyone concerned can be helped and protected.
But what if people don't know that this spiritual help is at hand, or don't know how to effectively reach out for it?
My own prayers for insight brought an unexpected answer to that question and an experience I'll never forget.
I had just enjoyed an Indian summer evening walk around a Boston city pond. The peaceful walk provided a good opportunity to commune with God and to listen for spiritual ideas. I remembered this statement that I'd read by Mary Baker Eddy: "Man is the expression of God's being" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 470). I prayed to understand what God's being really is and what it means for us to be His expression.
Thinking about this expanded my consciousness of everyone's relation to God as Love, Life, Truth, Spirit, Soul, Mind, and Principle. I was inspired by considering the spiritual qualities that are ours as the expression of God's being, qualities of love, purity, wisdom, and holiness.
I felt impelled to get the Bible and Science and Health from my car and to read for a while on a park bench. A few minutes later an intense, burly man came up to me and asked earnestly, "Would you tell me about God?" Startled at first, I realized from the distance he came, he couldn't possibly have seen that I was reading the Bible. Then I could see that his request was sincere. So I said, "I'd be happy to talk with you about God." His face transformed. It became gentle and childlike, and he bounded over and bounced on the bench beside me, eager to listen. I silently asked God what I should say.
For nearly an hour, as I responded to his concerns, I talked to him about God's true nature as eternal Life, Truth, Love, and Mind. It became clear that he was struggling with violent impulses and mental problems that led to abusing his family. He was also involved with animal sacrifice and devil worshipers who were encouraging him to commit suicide.
Each time the man became suddenly agitated and disturbed as he poured out his struggles, I could feel the calm that God was bringing to this encounter and the power of spiritual understanding to bring freedom and peace.
I explained Jesus' teachings about the nature of the devil as a lie and a liar, as Jesus had explained it, and of God's nature as Truth and Love. As we talked, the man began to show confidence that he could feel God's love and pray to protect his children rather than to harm them.
We continued to talk as dusk turned to darkness. The whole time I felt the presence of Love and no fear.
Finally, I silently asked God, "Are we done for now?" I heard "Yes." When I asked the man this question, he said yes. Suddenly he walked away, but then came back to say with a big smile: "Thank you. God sent you to me."
Violence shall no more
be heard in thy land,
wasting nor destruction
within thy borders;
but thou shalt call
thy walls Salvation,
and thy gates Praise.