It's a phenomenon many people are familiar with. A company has been in a town for many years and has provided employment to a large number of residents, sometimes for generations. Then one day it shuts down or moves to another location. Most of the jobs are going or gone. And the people left behind may feel confused, lost, or even betrayed. (See, for example, the Monitor's article, "A sandal's last stitch," Aug. 27.)
There are obvious steps that city and state governments can take to find alternatives, though this isn't always a quick or easy process and it may involve a total change in a community's direction. But whether or not we have an official role in that effort, we can certainly support it with our prayers.
One of the first challenges that a city may face is the feeling of being unwanted, without value in the eyes of the world. This view can be an obstacle to efforts to regain jobs and prosperity.
Our prayers can help shift thought in a more hopeful, spiritual direction. One good way to begin is to step back and look at the qualities and values the company brought to the community. Were its products useful and beautiful? Were they a source of joy? What qualities did the employees need to exhibit – patience, ingenuity, precision, love toward customers? Was the company a good neighbor, expressing love toward the employees and other citizens?
Defining the scene in terms of spiritual qualities makes a kind of mental blueprint for prayer and for progress. Then, you could take a little time to look for those qualities expressed within the community. They may take radically different forms and appear in smaller venues, but you may find more evidence of them than you expected. You may also begin to see other spiritual qualities that you hadn't noticed until now.
All these qualities are present because they are spiritual and are actually the outcome of an infinite God, who is Spirit. Since God is ever present, we can't lose these qualities. It would be like cutting out a little piece of the sky – removing the blue and having a hole up there. All the spiritual qualities associated with the business that left – and more – are present because God is. No one can take them away. As Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper and discovered Christian Science, put it, "Love's labors are not lost" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896," p. 100).
One way to pray for your community is to affirm that the labor of divine Love is to bless its children – everyone – and that that labor is never lost or diminished. The spiritual qualities expressed by the business that left are still present and ready to blossom in the form of new opportunities. And because they are there, it's also possible to see a city as undiminished by the change that has occurred. It is still complete; nothing spiritual has actually been taken away.
In prayer, we can value our communities, their governments, and existing businesses and their employees, and make a special point of recognizing the good and helpful qualities that each institution expresses and represents. This is a wonderful way of loving our neighbors and the community as a whole.
Another important step is to see that no one can be cut off from God's love. Human circumstances change, but God's love is permanent and unchangingly ours. As this spiritual fact becomes clearer, our cities and towns will find inspired ways to search out new opportunities and will be less likely to go down blind alleys in the quest for progress.
The Bible offers a wonderful promise to people and cities who ally themselves with Spirit and strive to see things from a spiritual standpoint. It says, "Thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken" (Isa. 62:12). This is a promise that's true for everyone's city or town. Not one of them – and not one of us – will ever be left out of God's love.