Holy Ground and Conflict Resolution
HOW tragic when holy ground, which should be a focal point for spiritual aspirations, becomes instead a flash point for conflict. News reports tell of nonbelievers threatening, even desecrating, another faith's holy ground. They tell of religions fighting over ground that each claims as sacred to its tradition. Is there a way to view holy ground that will resolve, rather than engender, strife or conflict?
The Psalmist pointed to one when he said of God, ``Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?'' Since God, Spirit, is always present, it follows that anywhere we are, we can experience something of the ``holy ground'' of God's presence.
Recognizing holiness as ever present does require us to open our thought to God by living more fully in accord with His law. Christ Jesus summed up God's commands as wholehearted love for God and steadfast love for our neighbor. The more faithfully we express the love that is in fact inherent in man's true nature as God's offspring, the more we feel something of God's presence and so find ourselves, in essence, on holy ground.
Seen in this way, holy ground begins to become not so much a location as an attitude of love for God and man. It evidences our growing recognition of mankind's common ground as in truth the children of God.
But to separate holy ground from geographic boundaries doesn't provide an excuse for disrespect or indifference toward mankind's sacred places. Rather, as we learn more of the power and presence of divine Love, of God, our desire and ability to show respect and brotherly love are heightened. And this surely helps lay the foundation for equitable solutions of disputes over reverenced locations.
A woman I know had a small experience that showed her something of this. Regular church attendance made the whole week go better, she felt. But one Sunday as she tried to get to church, first one bus was late, then the next, until by the time she arrived, the service was over.
``This is really going to be a bad week,'' she thought, ``because I've missed the service.'' She felt she particularly needed the time at church that week because she had been worried that a serious conflict at work was worsening.
Then she realized that even though the service was over for that day, she could still pray. With her she had her copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. Here she found the spiritual sense of Church, which includes these words: ``The structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle.''
This Church wasn't limited to a particular time or place, so she could never be deprived of it or of the inspiration she needed. The woman thought how God, divine Love, is everywhere. Her feeling of being alienated from God, of having missed out on something good, gave way to peace.
That week at work she found that her greater awareness of Love's ever-presence gave her a new view of the co-worker who had seemed so troublesome. That week, the conflict was completely resolved.
Surely it would be a travesty of the tender, infinite love of Deity for His children if He were present only in certain locations, available only to a few. What a recipe for disputes! But in truth good cannot be confined to one or a few material places. That's because good is of God, and so is wholly spiritual and infinite. There is enough for each one. So man as God's child doesn't have to fight to preserve a limited share of good. He lives in the presence of good.
In reality, man's genuine worth and identity are spiritual, and the beauty and preciousness of man's identity as God's offspring are intact. But we must be consistent in identifying man in this way if we would help nurture an awareness of our spiritual heritage, as well as the brotherhood and mutual respect that are inevitable for God's children.
At any time, in any place, we have the divine right to consecrate our thinking and acting. That is, we can strive to live more fully a growing love for God and man. As we do, we can begin to experience more of holiness and harmony as right at hand. This helps bring the spiritual fact of the ever-presence of holiness more clearly to view for all the world's family. We see better that it is our divine Parent's will that all His children rejoice together in the ever-presence of His universal, holy love. BIBLE VERSE The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. ...They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
Isaiah 11:6, 7, 9