In a stark, dry desert, you don't expect the externals to make life easy. Frequent visitors to such terrain say the ravaged land appears "devoid of life." Yet anyone familiar with the variety of desert landscapes will tell you there is life to be found. Sometimes lush, bountiful life where one least expects to find it.
Still, in the wake of unceasing assaults and mounting casualties in Iraq, the image of a wilderness struggling to support life is what keeps coming to mind.
Recently, the United States announced a new strategy for going forward and reining in the violence. Some say this will help. Others argue that regardless of the military or political plans that are implemented, bloodshed will continue as long as powerful militias remain that are insistent on sectarian war.
The thought of this last possibility playing itself out makes the heart cry out for relief. The world yearns to see signs in Iraq of thriving life, not death. We need an oasis.
But that familiar image – life flourishing despite desolate surroundings – is a reminder that fresh possibilities can surface that we weren't expecting to see.
Finding practical solutions in a wilderness of harsh conditions and problems requires unshakable determination, extraordinary patience, tireless searching. Along this demanding path, problem-solvers of all kinds will find encouragement in the Scriptures.
One prophecy of Isaiah speaks of the God who will make "a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert" (43:19). The reader will find no mention of the Almighty's ability or inability to do this. In fact, the same verse begins with this promise from God: "Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?"
Spring forth now? Yes, and especially with help from the revolutionary perspective of Christian Science found in Mary Baker Eddy's "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." This book characterizes wilderness in two ways – as the unsettling experience of "loneliness; doubt; darkness," and as "the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence" (p. 597).
Note the use of the word and in that last description. The prevailing perception of things may be dark, with a feeling that whatever is needed to stem the violence in Iraq and permit life there to flourish is in short supply. Yet at the same time – and – there is "a way in the wilderness." The spiritual senses that all of us have make it possible to discern "the great facts of existence" and discover the wellspring of intelligence and goodness that is of God and that's always at hand to help us.
Most people believe that God is with us, whether we're in Baghdad or Bali or Boston. But beyond a vague or theoretical concept of what this means, the Science of Christ is proving that those who turn their attention to this Mind, focusing less on the externals and more on discerning Mind's ideas, discover just how bountiful and beneficial these "great facts of existence" are.
Over the ages, the track record of healing along these lines is impressive and well founded. Mind's ideas, discerned through watching and praying, fundamentally change the human conception of existence, and over centuries this has freed countless people from the severest of famines, fatal diseases, family crises.
So as we watch events in Iraq and hear of the daunting challenges, let's remember how much good is possible – because divine, infinite Mind is present. It's not just possible, but natural, to expect concrete, problem-solving ideas to "spring forth" – to be known, and to be sufficient to meet the large-scale and the everyday demands. May the men, women, and children of Iraq discover this spiritual oasis, and find nourishment in it.
Adapted from an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.