Home-building in tough times
A Christian Science perspective.
Home is central to our lives. Events that separate people from their homes usually represent tough, if not extreme, life experiences. Our thoughts go out to those whose houses have been swept away by disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and floods – as well as financial or relationship disasters. How can we help our neighbors or ourselves? Is it possible to bring the light of comfort and hope to the darkness of despair?
Our global village needs everyone who cares enough to pray for others. Prayer reaches out to divine ways and means in times when human effort alone is not enough. Striking a single match in pitch darkness enables someone to light a candle that will burn until daylight comes. Even a tiny ray of hope, or sign of God's love, can be enough to show the first step out of despair, and can lead into the full awareness of our home in God.
Then there's the rebuilding. Lives have to be rebuilt, even when houses can't be. Is there something that survives human loss? Is there a sense of home that transcends the house we want to put it in?
The Bible's book of Psalms includes a song that presents a more permanent concept of home: "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts!... Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young ... Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee" (Ps. 84). And Psalm 23 also celebrates what it means to be at home with God. The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, amplifies its final verse in this way: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house [the consciousness] of [Love] for ever" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 578).
Building the spiritual sense of our home in God is possible anywhere, under any circumstances. It involves qualities of thought, not bricks or timber. We tend to think of home in terms of four p's – property, possessions, people, and place. But sadly it's possible for these to be swept away, as we have seen during recent events. So what home-building materials can we use that are permanent? There are some prickly "p's" – pride, position, personality, and prestige – qualities that don't originate in God and that don't stand up in a storm. But what I think of as the sweet "p's" are the very best home-builders. They are qualities of God in expression – qualities such as patience, perseverance, purity, and peace. Or persistence, promise, and purpose. They not only endure, they expand and lead to a higher, more spiritually developed sense of home.
St. Paul wrote: "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (II Cor. 5:1). Our home in God is enduring because it isn't "out there" – it's within us. It's the place within consciousness where the awareness of God's presence and love is constant and independent of outward circumstances. And even a glimpse of this is powerful in bringing regeneration and restoration to devastated lives.
I recall reading something a survivor of the holocaust in World War II wrote – that the quality common to survivors was the ability to care for someone else under the most extreme conditions. For these men and women who had lost everything, the essential ability to love brought them out of the pit and led into new life. This example can guide anyone praying to survive adverse circumstances. The ability to pray for one another at these times is a lifeline that keeps hearts and lives safely at home in "the house [the consciousness] of [Love] for ever." And it will lead to the restoration of all that we need.
A hymn in the "Christian Science Hymnal" (No. 278) reflects this ability to find spiritual permanence in the midst of human transience:
Pilgrim on earth, home and heaven are within thee,Heir of the ages and child of the day.Cared for, watched over, beloved and protected,Walk thou with courage each step of the way.
For more on this topic, see www.spirituality.com to hear a chat with the author titled, "Home: more than a place to hang your hat."