I was watching the TV, transfixed with horror at the sight of the woman wailing and crying with her two daughters, looking so like to mine, dead in front of her. I cried and cried for the woman's grief. I knew her pain. She was a woman from my own country, Iran. We have very close family ties in Iranian societies. Our families are everything to us.
I had just heard the devastating news of the earthquake. It happened near my father's hometown of Shiraz, where we have many relatives and friends. I wanted to pray but wasn't certain how to begin. I felt so totally numb and shocked. I sat by my desk just staring into nothing.
Just then an e-mail message dropped into my computer. The subject line read "unshakable truth." From out of the blue somebody who knew I was Iranian had sent his to me, saying she was praying for us all. I was so touched. It brought tears to my eyes and a sense of love to my panic-stricken thought.
She wrote: "Solid conviction of truth is unshakable and it applies to all of us." How true, I thought. Yes, that was a good place to anchor in my state of confusion and numbness about the scale of devastation.
Even if I wasn't able to think clearly to pray, the thought that right at that moment many people were praying was such a relief and comfort. I was beginning to catch the power of this universal prayer right where I was.
I felt the unshakable truth through a universe of kindred hearts and loving thoughts holding this town and its inhabitants in prayer. I could also add my voice. A calm came over me. It was so worthy of Christmas peace, the mission of Christ to earth: "on earth peace, good will toward men." It was to me the prayers all around the globe in one voice embracing the people of Bam.
It gave me courage to join this band of prayer warriors and be another prayer soldier on duty to add my stillness to the chaos.
When the prophet Elijah was hiding in a cave, he witnessed windstorms and earthquakes and raging fire. He found God in a "still small voice" (see I Kings 19:12).
The Spirit of God blows where it will, but it fills only sails already spread. Musicians know from experience the value of practicing. They practice every day to improve their performance.
Observing daily periods of stillness in humility and fervor is an indispensable exercise in spiritual nourishment gradually creating within us a permanent state of peace and calm. And it does not stop there. Its ripple effect spreads through all the universe.
And that is what comforted me when I was reaching out to God for answers on how to pray. My soul discovers in such silence unsuspected possibilities. It realizes that life can be lived in a God who is all embracing. It is not an isolated silence where my soul shuts itself up. It is a stillness which opens the infinite in a true communion of minds and hearts in real unity with God.
It is what Mary Baker Eddy says of the power of still thoughts that come to us in silence and prayer in this way: "And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," page 210).
I lit a candle and put it on my kitchen window sill. My kitchen faces the road. I lit it in the spirit of gratitude my heart felt for the light others had given me with their prayers. Lighting this candle captured for me the essence of what it means to live a spiritual life. This candle was about bringing light into the world. It was to me a reminder that we are lights on a spiritual journey where the divine flows through us and its dazzle can never become dim, lost, or forgotten.
Fear thou not;
for I am with thee:
be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee;
yea, I will help thee; yea,
I will uphold thee
with the right hand
of my righteousness.