Hope and comfort from Japan

A Christian Science perspective: Insights from a writer in Tokyo, Japan on finding peace and calm amid devastation from the earthquake and tsunami.

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Here in Tokyo I have created an e-mail file called “earth blessings” (not “earthquake”) – a collection of over 150 messages of blessing, messages of hope that Japan survive one of the saddest events in our recent history.

The reason I named it “earth blessings” is because I insist on seeing the beauty of earth’s gifts, instead of the curse of nature.

The only way we are improving this planet, our home, is to see earth more from a spiritual perspective, in order to realize the significance of “Thy kingdom come” and “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” – Christ Jesus’ declarations in the Lord’s Prayer for all humanity. The founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, added her spiritual sense to these lines: “Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever-present”; and “Enable us to know, – as in heaven, so on earth, – God is omnipotent, supreme” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pp. 16-17).

The only light at the end of a long tunnel of materialism is the spiritualization of our thinking. Amid devastation it’s easy to try to measure our existence from a material perspective – fear of deprivation and feeling the necessity to fight over a limited supply, whether it be of energy or opportunity. But this allows us only to repeat the history of material creation and destruction. And trusting in material force to overcome conflicts and unrest is another aspect of the unproductive, material perspective.

A spiritual perspective, however, can be expressed daily in patience, calmness, and peace. Can these qualities calm the effects of an earthquake and a tsunami?

When the earthquake hit here in Tokyo – the biggest one I have ever experienced – my neighbor was comforted by an American who came over to her and said firmly, “Daijyobu desu, daijyobu” (“It’s all right, it’s all right”). My neighbor said she suddenly felt washed over with peace, and fear disappeared. What was behind these simple words?

Her comment reminded me of the account of Jesus literally stilling a tempest by saying, I am sure loudly and firmly, “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39).

Can merely saying a phrase “Peace, be still” calm a storm, wind, and fire? Or is it something more – seeing with conviction our “dominion” over earth from a higher perspective, from a spiritual and metaphysical viewpoint, beyond physics?

I have recently heard an insight on how Jesus did not still the storm, but rather invited those around him into his peace – the peace that comes from dominion over physical law. Under divine law, the storm became nil – no power, nothing. The storm was not the real force to the master healer. Peace was.

Jesus promised to give us peace, but not as a human condition, as mere absence of war or conflict. To me he meant the eternal peace that prevails and keeps the universe in order.

Have we lost this peace? No. Never! We can feel it here and now. We are born with this peace, and we can revive and bring it to the very front of our consciousness, to have dominion over “earth,” which is described by Mary Baker Eddy as representing “a compound idea” (Science and Health, p. 585). In this light, we can see the earth as made up of spiritual ideas – all right ideas such as peace, calm, intelligence, creativity, generosity, and love. And man, including each of us, made in the image and likeness of God, as stated in the first chapter of Genesis, is the highest idea and can have dominion over what we call “nature.” Nature must coincide with the divine will that is harmonious and good. So disaster is not natural but unnatural. Jesus is the teacher and model who showed us how to have dominion over the tempest and other noises that try to keep us from exercising our divine right.

Peace and calm have been expressed so much here in Japan, not because we gave in to the disaster but because innately we know and feel this peace with love. Jesus is often called the “Prince of peace” around Christmastime, and we are reminded of the biblical account of the angels declaring God’s true and only will: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).

Jesus also said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). This peace can heal. This day, we can be conscious of such peace, by declaring our spiritual dominion over material destruction.

All the prayer and love you are sending our way brings this peace to the whole world – dominion over the earth, our beautiful home.

For a translation of this article in French, Danish, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, Swedish, see The Herald of Christian Science.

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