When I think of rebuilding anything, I recall the tornado that hit my sister's farm and leveled a barn and other small buildings. By the time we arrived to help, cleanup was well on its way, and the focus of conversation was on the new buildings that would be built.
More recently, water damage in my daughter's school, caused by the sprinkler system, demanded immediate action in drying out the walls. Even though the problem might have been caused by negligence, there was no finger-pointing or bitter accusations. Rebuilding was the focus.
Important lessons from both experiences inspire me when I pray for the rebuilding of Iraq. Even though some infrastructure has been rebuilt, much is yet to be done.
The spiritual power that is always active can be, and actually is, present. The Bible records that Abraham, inspired by faith and guided by prayer, left all that was familiar and looked for a dwelling place "whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11:10).
One way of thinking about Abraham's experience is that in leaving the familiar, he was leaving behind him all the rivalries and the traumas of the past. And today people of the Muslim, Christian, and Hebrew faith, are blessed by Abraham's vision and obedience and by following where it leads them. Iraqis, and all of us, can leave the mistakes of the past. In a sense this is our primary cleanup work.
While the situation in Iraq does not require another Abraham, it does need a similar faith that there is a divine Builder, who is also a rebuilder. Because God is the original source of all the good that Iraq has experienced, that good remains in the heart of the people. It will take new form and function, but it is still the good that is always reappearing in human lives. This is the real power that can be evoked to build and rebuild that tortured country.
The textbook of Christian Science states: "The understanding, even in a degree, of the divine All-power destroys fear, and plants the feet in the true path, - the path which leads to the house built without hands 'eternal in the heavens.' Human hate has no legitimate mandate and no kingdom. Love is enthroned" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," page 454).
This house "built without hands" may be likened to the goal Abraham sought when he placed all in the spiritual "hands" of the divine Builder. Today it is possible, even necessary, that all who wish well for Iraq maintain the same inspired consciousness that always preserves and builds. Those ancient traditions of civilization, which Iraq's history include, form a firm foundation for right nation building. Actually this is a spiritual foundation, which neither old nor new atrocities can bring down.
Those who aim to destroy lack the power that comes from God, who is Love. Hate has no mandate; Love will break its hold. This is the conclusion of righteous prayer. And the God of Abraham will ultimately open everyone's eyes to see the eternal builder and His-Her creation.
Fear, whether it is motivating someone to an uncivilized act or unwise reaction, will be destroyed. Past mistakes and misunderstandings have not the staying power of good.
As we focus on the "house built without hands," we are not only clearing away the past but also forestalling gloomy predictions. The idea that is the essence of everything that is real and good is never truly destroyed.
An editorial entitled "Give Iraqis Running Room" in this newspaper (June 29) addresses probabilities of mistakes and false starts in the Iraqi interim government, and it calls for patience. It closes with this assurance: "The zigzag, improvised actions in Iraq have, and will, be difficult. But the overall momentum toward a free, stable nation can be sustained." Our recognition that God, the eternal Builder, is operating in Iraq helps sustain this forward movement.
Let us rise up and build.
So they strengthened their hands for this good work.