"The American people, mainly the intellectuals and artists, must understand the depth of our tragedy and help us," cried Nouri al-Rawi, the father of contemporary Iraqi art ("Arbil arts festival: 'Iraq is more than blood,' " The Christian Science Monitor, May 29).
To me, this plea for understanding on the mental, artistic level makes clear the great role that thinking, feeling – and yes, prayer – plays in addressing both personal and national problems. What we're thinking about Iraq and the Iraqi people has consequence.
It's good to be reminded that at a deeper level, life in Iraq is more than just trying to stay alive. As the war continues, I was beginning to think of Iraq mostly in terms of suicide bombers, roadside bombs, and casualties. The reminder that there is much more going on in Iraq than fighting fills me with hope.
Earlier, I had perceived that each Iraqi is as assuredly a child of God as I believe that I am. Right there is the intelligence and desire to bring civil war to an end. Right there are equitable plans for the distribution of resources from the oil fields. In each Iraqi heart there is love enough for Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds to live together, whether it be in a federation of states or a more centralized government.
Now this cry to understand – and therefore help to heal – what is happening to the soul of the Iraqi people presents the opportunity for our prayers to go beyond seeking the end of hostilities, as important as that is.
In the article mentioned above, another Iraqi artist makes clear some of the mental challenges that Iraqis face. Faisal al-Laibi explained that apathy reigns in Iraq now. Decades of repression and wars have provided fertile ground for extremist religious parties. "There is no culture. There is regression…. The evil of today is the product of the previous fascist era."
That era has ended. The opportunity today – the help these artists are requesting – is to break through the apathy that is slowing down progress toward normal, peaceful living.
I remember well a time when I found apathy overtaking my days and how grateful I was when that spell was broken. A major factor that contributed to the healing was the steadfast, uncritical love of my husband.
Recalling this simple personal experience has inspired me to be both more patient and more expectant of good in Iraq. Right there, right now, the healing love that flows from divine Love is present and powerful to break through apathy.
In the Christian Science textbook, Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of both Christian Science and this newspaper, wrote simply but profoundly: "Divine Love corrects and governs man" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 6). This Love doesn't just point out what needs correcting but in a sense makes the correction. It inspires all to look beyond mere self-interests to a larger good that blesses everyone.
I'm grateful for this particular call for help from Iraq. It plunges prayer, with its healing power, more deeply into the tragedy of Iraq. And it reminds us that right in the midst of what's going on, there is a people created by God to do His will.
As we affirm in prayer that divine Love is working its purpose out, we are responding to this special cry for help.
The desert shall rejoice,
and blossom as the rose.
It shall blossom abundantly,
even with joy and singing.
Isaiah 35:1, 2