Along with the Herculean task of physical and political reconstruction in Iraq, it's obvious that a lot of attention needs to be given to mental reconstruction.
The wounds of sorrow, loss, and, in some cases, humiliation and anger, as well as the shock of major change, cry out for healing.
There's encouragement in stories from around the world - many of which have been told in this newspaper - that testify to the awesome resilience of the human spirit. Those who wish that the people of Iraq will rebuild their lives stronger than before can find hope in the Bible's affirmation, "There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding" (Job 32:8).
Everyone needs to do mental reconstruction at some point. "Think globally, act locally" tells me to move forward as courageously as I can through my own struggles, and to take opportunities to help others do the same.
The members of my church had such an opportunity at our Wednesday meeting. A visitor asked if he could raise some questions that troubled him. His wife had just died, he told us, cut off in midlife despite their prayers and the valiant efforts of physicians. "Where is she now?" he asked. "Why do terrible things happen to innocent people?"
I appreciated the way the small group around the table rose to the occasion. They spoke from their hearts and personal experience. And the man's sincere gratitude to each one there made me feel that he had at least begun his mental reconstruction.
Several ideas shared that evening have helped renew my spirit in the aftermath of the war. One is that death doesn't put an end to anyone's life. Identity consists of qualities such as intelligence, kindness, and integrity. It is spiritual, not material. An individual's consciousness continues always, experiencing more of the beauty and love of God's spiritual universe.
The question "Where are they now?" made me ask, "Where do I think I am now?" The physical senses don't reveal anything about spiritual existence. Anyone can begin today, even for moments, to stop thinking as a physical personality confined in a space/time box. Stop claiming limited ability and support. Instead, acknowledge that God, the only Life and Mind there is, supports the whole creation with inexhaustible power and love.
I find that the more I engage in this kind of spiritual reconstruction of consciousness, the better equipped I feel to meet the challenges that come my way.
One person at the church meeting, an active businesswoman who uses a wheelchair, tackled the question of why good people have hard times. Jesus' life wasn't easy, she said, quoting his words, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
The great spiritual traditions don't promise ease in the world. But they do promise, to those willing to undertake the spiritual renewal of the mind, the gain of a consciousness that is without pain and death. For Jesus and his followers, this consciousness wasn't just to be attained in the hereafter. He showed them how to begin overcoming sorrow, pain, disease, and even death here on earth.
Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy rebuilt her life after severe losses, through the power of spiritual consciousness. Her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" contains a most beautiful passage on how the understanding of reality as wholly spiritual can overcome sorrow and pain even now.
Writing about St. John's vision of the new heaven and earth related in the Bible (Revelation, chapter 21), Mrs. Eddy spoke of John, one of Jesus' followers, as experiencing this illumined state of consciousness: "This is Scriptural authority for concluding that such a recognition of being is, and has been, possible to men in this present state of existence, - that we can become conscious, here and now, of a cessation of death, sorrow, and pain. This is indeed a foretaste of absolute Christian Science. Take heart, dear sufferer, for this reality of being will surely appear sometime and in some way. There will be no more pain, and all tears will be wiped away. When you read this, remember Jesus' words, 'The kingdom of God is within you.' This spiritual consciousness is therefore a present possibility" (pgs. 573-574).
Let the rebuilding begin.