When we returned to the United States with our newly adopted son, after living abroad for several years, we spent lots of time visiting family and friends and exposing him to American culture and daily living. We hadn’t settled in a house yet, and for weeks we had a few suitcases as our only possessions.
When one stranger at a social gathering asked, “Where do you live, dear?” our son innocently replied, “Well, actually, we are homeless.” The woman’s startled look gave our son pause, and he realized he had shocked her. Without a familiar homeland, and not yet a US citizen, he was in that no man’s land between homelessness and statelessness.
Most of the world’s displaced children (and adults) don’t have the promise of a bright future that our son had. The condition of statelessness, whether caused by wars, economic flight, or birth in a foreign land, oftentimes makes individuals desperate, as they find themselves trapped and without the identity that would guarantee them security. In the words of one young woman from the Monitor's recent feature on statelessness, “I am nobody.”
Despite the efforts of international organizations to aid the plight of those caught in a stateless condition, and despite work among countries that try to address their needs, conventional wisdom says the situation is still hopeless. Turning to prayer and enfolding all these dear people in God’s love and care is one way each of us, right where we are, can help people see beyond this seemingly hopeless condition.
“Nobodies” do not exist in God’s universe. A poem set to music makes this promise:
Our Father’s house has many rooms,
And each with love and peace imbued;
No child can ever stray beyond
The compass of infinitude.
(Rosemary Cobham, “Christian Science Hymnal Supplement,” No. 443).
There is no helplessness when we affirm that every child is included in God’s circle of enfoldment. When the news reports the bleak impact of poverty or conflict on families, our prayers can affirm that no one can ever stray beyond the love of our Father-Mother God, whose care and comfort are ever present.
Many people have turned to the Bible for hope in times of stress. The Psalms are filled with assurances of God listening to us and giving us courage. Psalm 91 states: “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” This infinite circle encompasses us all.
The Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, explained where true citizenship and security lie: “Citizens of the world, accept the ‘glorious liberty of the children of God,’ and be free!” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 227). Here there is no entanglement, entrapment, or destitution. We’re all held in that infinitude of God’s parenting care, never defenseless or stateless. Our brothers and sisters are secure and safe in God’s keeping.