The people of Russia have been experiencing severe drought, extreme heat, and wildfires. The fires are spreading across central Russia. The peat bogs around Moscow have also been burning, resulting in thick toxic smoke. Recent reports indicate that the fires could become even more dangerous if they reach areas affected by the decades-old Chernobyl reactor meltdown. There is also concern that as the smoke has cleared in Moscow, there is less impetus to be more environmentally conscious.
My heart goes out to all Russians. But what can one person miles away from the scene do to help? In my life, I’ve found prayer to be helpful in every emergency. Prayer opens thought to ideas from God that reveal resources, calm frantic activity, and bring healing.
Recently while I was praying about the fires, the idea of “coolness and balm” came to me. I recognized it as part of a hymn that refers to divine comfort as “Thy coolness and Thy balm.” It continues, “Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,/ O still small voice of calm” (John Greenleaf Whittier, “Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 49).
God’s speaking through the earthquake, wind, and fire reminds me of the prophet Elijah and his need for peace in the midst of drought and the desire of his enemies to kill him. He was ready to give up. But while he was praying in a cave, God told him to leave the cave and stand on the mountain. There, he witnessed a strong wind, an earthquake, and fire. But the Bible indicates that none of those destructive forces were from or of God. Then Elijah heard “a still small voice.” This voice was God telling him how to proceed and inspiring him with the strength and courage to move forward.
How calming it is to hear this reassuring and peaceful voice in prayer. It quiets fear and opens thought to the ideas needed to solve the problem at hand. You could say it cools angry, heated thoughts and makes room for calm, peace, and healing. It refreshes and spiritualizes the mental climate. Even if we’re a long way from Russia, we can still pray to hear this voice and expect it to have far-reaching results.
Christ Jesus’ mission was to bring peace to the world. I wonder if, when he quieted a storm with the words “Peace, be still,” he was speaking to the storm or to his disciples. Was Jesus asking them to pray and still their fearful thoughts? The Christ, the Truth that he represented, was with them, helping them experience peace. Through his clear understanding of God’s love for all, the storm was stilled.
Jesus’ Christly message of peace is with us today. Prayer does quiet thought and remove strain and stress. It is the mental rain that softens harsh actions, as rain softens the earth. As we experience the divine order, a beautiful peace prevails. This order is present everywhere, and our prayers can support all Russians, whether they be firefighters, rescue workers, public officials, or ordinary citizens, in feeling God’s refreshing quietness. The Christ is available to inspire appropriate action, sustaining them and bringing them through this crisis.