Several weeks ago, the US announced plans to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. I live in Japan, and like many of my fellow citizens, I long for peace in the world. At the time of the announcement, I recalled watching footage of a US Army operating base near the border of Pakistan (“60 Minutes,” Sept. 3, 2009). The reporter said that this particular area of Afghanistan is called “the wilderness,” because it’s in the middle of nowhere.
This brought to mind all the accounts in the Bible of miracles that took place in the wilderness. Moses and the children of Israel were protected from many threats, including death by enemy attacks, starvation, and thirst, as they fled from slavery in Egypt. Unlike Pharaoh, who had a standing army and many resources, the Israelites had only limited material resources. Given the harsh conditions, they all could have died there, or could have given up and returned to slavery. But Moses had a spiritual vision – an understanding of God’s power and a conviction that He was with them. For Moses, the wilderness became the place to prove the superiority of Spirit over matter.
The law of God enabled Jesus to heal, comfort, protect, and feed thousands of people during his ministry. Almost 2,000 years later, Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Monitor, perceived the spiritual law behind Jesus’ life and works. Through her research in the Bible, she was able to articulate this law in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.”
This law of good has helped people in all kinds of wildernesses – illness, drug abuse, loneliness, fear, anger. In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy described “wilderness” as representing “loneliness; doubt; darkness;” and also, interestingly, as “spontaneity of thought and idea; the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence” (p. 597).
For the people of Afghanistan and the troops from other nations who are there, the wilderness areas may well exhibit “loneliness; doubt; darkness.” But a higher vision for a peace that embraces all peoples within that complex country can bring spiritual light to bear.
Ultimately, each of us can refocus and pray with a deep expectation that “spontaneity of thought and idea” will help people give up intransigence for the goal of stability and peace. A willingness to trust one another may not come all at once, but in our prayers we can claim a spiritual sense of those engaged in conflict. In other words, we can see the desire for a better, holier life as the only real motivator. We can also reject hatred, jealousy, and other negative motives as having no power to delay each individual’s God-given right to peace.
Prayer and commitment to love our neighbors can transform our hearts so that we place more trust in the power of divine Love, which will awaken humanity to who we truly are – loving and lovable brothers and sisters of one family, under God’s care.