An aspen moment, and prayer that heals the world
A Christian Science perspective.
I guess I’d always thought of wind as having a sound of its own, a sort of vague whooshing sound. Then, about a year ago, I was sitting on a boulder in the Rocky Mountains when I felt a crisp breeze brush across my face. As I drank in the panoramic view, the stillness, the grandeur, suddenly I was struck by the fact that what registered as “wind” was actually the sound of hundreds of aspen leaves brushing against one another – hundreds, maybe thousands, of individual, insignificant points of contact. Put them together and what you hear is wind.Skip to next paragraph
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Most days I move through countless interchanges with other people. One contact taken alone doesn’t seem very significant. But what if there is a wind of sorts, blowing through our lives, bringing us, moment by moment, into graceful contact with one another? Jesus once compared wind to the Spirit of God: “You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next” (John 3:7, 8, Eugene Peterson, “The Message”). This Spirit, like a gentle breeze, moves thought, clearing away dust and clutter such as fear, resentment, and apathy, and stirring us to action. It brings us into contact – often gently, sometimes momentously – with the world around us.
As I listened to the wind blowing through those leaves, it occurred to me that each leaf is connected to the tree by a single, slender stem. Each moves independently, yet together they create a delicate or mighty rhythm that registers the presence of wind. And much like those leaves, the Spirit of God moves in our thoughts and hearts, and registers its presence in the world.
Jesus also said, “God is Spirit” (John 4:24, New King James Version). And because God, Spirit, is present everywhere, the influence of the Holy Spirit is universal. It is impartial. It is our honor and privilege to worship Spirit by acknowledging its presence. This acknowledgment is a simple yet powerful prayer that has the potential to bring so much help and healing to our world.
For me, reading The Christian Science Monitor is like opening my thought to the movement of Spirit in the world. It brings me into contact with people I will never meet personally, alerts me to their needs, and invites me to pray with them and for them. This kind of prayer is a little bit like the aspen leaf’s response to the wind. One leaf does not change another leaf. But as we respond to the purifying and animating power of Spirit, we are also acknowledging, in a way, that the same Spirit is moving thought, stirring hearts, animating helpful activity everywhere. If I am turning each moment to God for inspiration, and if this same Holy Spirit is also inspiring everyone else to express His universal love and grace, then we have our own wind. Like tender leaves on an aspen tree, our prayers and our lives brush against one another, making us part of a larger force for good in the world.
The Monitor’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, once said that silent, collective prayers, “resounding through the dim corridors of time, go forth in waves of sound, a diapason of heart-beats, vibrating from one pulpit to another and from one heart to another, till truth and love, commingling in one righteous prayer, shall encircle and cement the human race” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 189).
Please join me. Find a quiet place to settle – could be a boulder, could be a city bus. Drink in the view of Spirit’s majestic presence and power. Let the stories in these pages brush your thought up against a friend in Zambia, a neighbor in Japan, a fellow worker in Oakland, Calif. Let the wind, the inspiration of divine Spirit, move your heart to a place of humble, even wordless prayer. The world will feel the power of our united prayers.
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