Prayer on the road

A Christian Science perspective.

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Cars, trucks, buses, Jeepneys, and motorcycles press against one another – a shifting sea of competing interests, grasping for an inch of advantage. The “battlefield” of a traffic jam presents quite a metaphor for the human condition.

When we first arrived in our new home in Southeast Asia, I found driving (quite frankly) terrifying. It seemed more like a video game than an orderly procession. I was hesitant to drive anywhere outside our immediate neighborhood, and even there the traffic rules I was used to did not seem to apply. Driving in a foreign country, unfamiliar with the ebb and flow of car travel, seemed to pile on the extra elements of fear and chaos, and demanded increased vigilance. But after I was involved in a series of car accidents within a fairly short period of time, it became increasingly obvious that a higher, more prayerful perspective – and more Christian love for everyone on the road – was needed.

Over the ensuing months, my thought, and therefore my experience on the road, followed the trajectory described by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, when she wrote, “As human thought changes from one stage to another … from fear to hope, and from faith to understanding, — the visible manifestation will at last be man governed by Soul, not by material sense” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 125). It was as if God were taking me by the hand, lifting the whole experience out of chaos and fear into a series of specific evidences of His tender care and perfect coordination.

The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (verse 28). Where, in the heavenly cooperation of all things working together for good, is there room for combativeness, competition, or rage? And for those who love God, who are “the called according to his purpose,” could there really be a moment when self-interest rules out brotherly love?

“The cement of a higher humanity will unite all interests in the one divinity,” writes Mrs. Eddy (“Science and Health,” p. 571). What is this “higher humanity” that will cement our interests as one? Isn’t it compassion (without opinion or judgment), generosity (without measure), patience (no end in sight), purity (cleansing from all sin), and forgiveness (including no self-righteousness)? These qualities of divine Love, blending, form the true brotherhood of man.

Recognizing that we all, as children of our loving Father-Mother God, have one interest “according to his purpose” has transformed the experience of driving overseas. When someone asked recently if I was afraid to drive in this country, I smiled and answered, “No, I just pray and sing hymns loudly!” I described the times when, with Jeepneys and trucks all around, I have smiled and waved up at drivers, who have stopped and made room for me to go forward.

Seeing each vehicle and driver on the road as being “called according to his purpose” has transplanted not only me, but everyone around me, from the battlefield to the kingdom of heaven. What a joy to witness the “cement of a higher humanity unit[ing] all interests in the one divinity”!

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