AS this is being written we are still experiencing the aftershock tremors of an earthquake that rolled through southern California, registering -- according to early news reports -- 6.1 on the Richter scale. My own home is no more than a few miles from what has been identified as the epicenter of the quake, and while we incurred some minor damage, no one was harmed. Tragically, this has not been the case everywhere. There are some common-sense measures one can and should take: Staying away from windows and their potentially flying glass, keeping clear of anything that could fall, and so on. Once we had taken these measures, ensuring that everyone in the house was safe -- and checking on our neighbors -- my wife and I turned to the Bible, to the forty-sixth Psalm. Part of it reads: ``God is our refuge and strength, a very present helpin trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed...though the mountains shake....'' After those vividly descriptive passages the Psalmist goes on to speak of the city of God and says, ``God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved.''1
What a helpful reassurance to know that the city of God is unmovable, unshakable. And perhaps that provides a useful beginning to one's prayers. For if we can begin to see that each one of us truly dwells in the city of God, we can also begin to see the unshakable, invulnerable nature of our life and well-being. It is the nature of God, who is the divine Principle of the universe, to maintain His creation in a state of perpetual harmony. Disasters are not a part of His plan, but harmony, safety, well-being, certainly are. They are spiritual qualities that He expresses and maintains throughout His spiritual creation. It is the design of God to sustain man and the universe in a state of constant stability. And this spiritual law can be seen to relate in a practical way to the human scene.
Christian Science, in harmony with the teachings of Christ Jesus, points to the mental basis of existence. Jesus' words make clear the importance of cultivating that pure state of thought which enables us to discern God, to glimpse the reality of His kingdom at hand, and to reflect something of the divine power that heals. His teachings also show the destructive influence of carnal, materialistic thinking.
To consider an earthquake in mental terms may seem ludicrous at first. But giving the matter further consideration in relation to the impact of thought on experience and in light of the actual, spiritual nature of what God has created can make a difference. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``The material so-called gases and forces are counterfeits of the spiritual forces of divine Mind, whose potency is Truth, whose attraction is Love, whose adhesion and cohesion are Life, perpetuating the eternal facts of being.'' Then, using the term mortal mind in much the same way that the Bible uses the term carnal mind, she says further along, ``There is no vapid fury of mortal mind -- expressed in earthquake, wind, wave, lightning, fire, bestial ferocity -- and this so-called mind is self-destroyed.''2
Perhaps what we need is a deeper understanding of the power of God, of the one divine Mind, to quiet the rumblings of mortal thought -- the sins, fears, and so forth -- that underlie destructive phenomena.
Lessening the destruction of an earthquake through mental means, through prayer that reflects something of divine Mind's harmonizing power, may seem beyond our present ability, our present understanding of prayer. But dealing with the elements of thought that foster discord -- greed, sensuality, envy, and so on -- is not beyond our present ability. It is work we can begin today in both our own thoughts and actions and in our prayers for humanity. We can strive to discern the reality of man as something infinitely better than a sinful mortal motivated by greed or selfishness or stupidity -- and such prayer must have a healing impact. We can realize that everyone's true selfhood is God's likeness, expressing His wisdom, integrity, order, purity, love.
And we can at least begin to understand that in truth man always dwells in the city of God and that indeed ``God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved.''
1Psalms 46:1-5. 2Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 293.
You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: The Lord reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.