IN her book, Grey Is the Color of Hope, Irina Ratushinskaya gives a moving account of her imprisonment in a remote Siberian labor camp. She was one of a small group of women housed together in a separate area called the "Small Zone, reserved for those considered especially "dangerous because of their political views. The women resolved frictions among themselves and maintained their strength by creating a loving community in the midst of the moral insanity around them. ". . . Despite everything, Irinawrote, "we retained our unity and stood by our principles. Eventually Irina was released. What was accomplished in the "Small Zone came through inspired resourcefulness and faith. Such enduring, unselfed love has a way of eventually surmounting all that opposes it. Although it works silently, it can't be silenced. Christly, unselfed love is at the root of Christian healing. A clear explanation of how Christian healing works is given in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. "Prayer, watching, and working, combined with self-immolation, are God's gracious means for accomplishing whatever has been successfully done for the Christianization and health of mankind, she writes. Yet how we forget, sometimes! It's as if we've either ignored Jesus' example or categorized it as just too impractical to consider right now. Christly love, however, has its source in God, divine Love. Jesus embodied the spiritual idea of divine Love, or the Christ, which he showed is available to everyone and isn't limited or remote. It's infinite, unbounded. That's why we can have the strength to love under conditions that might otherwise seem beyond our endurance. In the book of Matthew in the Bible, Jesus said, "Love your enemies . . . that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven. When someone is acting out a role of hate or aggression, he or she is blinded to man's identity as the spiritual offspring of God and is living a lie. When a faithful Christian bears witness to the truth that man is divine Love's likeness, that truth can break through the lie. Jesus never stopped bearing witness to man's spiritual nature. He didn't stop loving simply because others appeared to know little or nothing about their own spiritual identity. And Jesus proved that seeing man in the light of God's love has a transforming effect. Diseases and sins are actually destroyed by it. There is a power in genuine Christian love that is as invincible as its tenderness. It takes moral and spiritual courage to labor with consecrated, long-term effort so that unity of spirit may be established and maintained among people. Loving as Jesus loved also means laying down personal pride and ego that would have us reacting instead of praying. When we come to trust God above all else, we're able to love others genuinely because we're bearing witness to their real, sinless identity as the offspring of God. This doesn't mean we must love human errors or weaknesses. But we can grow more consistent in proving that the sins and failures that often appear so real aren't part of the man of God's creating at all. We can't work out another's salvation. But we can move much more in the direction of loving as Jesus loved, binding up one another's wounds, and working together to live the Golden Rule. And as we do, it may surprise us to see how far these efforts take us.
This is a condensed version of an editorial that appeared in the May 6 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.