ALL day we had been hearing about the intense rioting going on in Los Angeles and other cities. Now in our own city, rioting, looting, overturning of cars, had come within a block of the place where we live. As we joined in prayer with some friends who live nearby, we firmly faced a mob's anger with an understanding of God's presence, the presence of divine Love. The riots stopped in a very short time without reaching our homes. But, we can't stop there. Frustration and ignorance continue to try to disru pt harmony. We have to continue to pray and persist in gaining a deeper understanding of the power of God.
This recent encounter with the community's overflowing anguish reminded me of how I'd had to come to grips with the Watts riots some years ago. At that time my husband and I were doing a great deal of traveling, and I wasn't really affected by the riots at first. Then we returned to a place where we stayed frequently. I had come to know and love the woman who cared for our room. She was dignified, conscientious, loving, always joyful. My love for her impelled me to do something about the rioting that was
having such a devastating effect on her community.
I began to pray. I identified prejudice, frustration, ignorance, fear, as some of the forces that incited the rioting. I had to admit to myself that I am sometimes frustrated, ignorant, fearful, even prejudiced. As I continued to reason prayerfully, I realized that every time I expressed these--or similar--negative thoughts I was letting my thinking run riot. I began to see that correcting my own disturbed state of thought would help to eliminate at least my contribution to community prejudice, anger, an d fear. This, in turn, would help make an actual difference in calming what was occurring. And it would foster constructive action.
Christian Science explains God as infinite intelligence, or divine Mind. All real communication comes from this Mind. Such communication has to be good, since God is all good. Riotous thinking doesn't come from God, divine Mind. The first chapter of Genesis in the Bible reveals man--the innate true nature of each one of us--as the very image of God. Therefore disturbance is no part of our real, spiritual nature, which is eternally secure and satisfied. Thinking from this basis, I realized that I needed t o be more alert to eliminating a kind of riotous thought from my own life.
That very day there were several small opportunities to reverse frustration and impatience by acknowledging that I am under the control of God. They showed me what a healing effect comes from controlling the tumultuous emotions that, if unchecked, can burst out in violent attitudes--or even rioting. Interestingly, the clashes began to diminish, and I'm certain that the prayers of people everywhere helped.
Through the years since then my awareness of the depth of frustration on the human scene has increased. I see how often people feel locked into despair or desperation. But there is always a way out. Christ Jesus asked a sick man waiting by the pool of Bethesda for a miraculous cure, "Wilt thou be made whole? The man seemed to be in a hopeless situation. Yet, John's Gospel records, Jesus healed him.
Healing comes to us today as we lift our thought to God, the source of all good. If we try to solve mankind's problems at the level of the material situation, we will always feel locked in. The only way to vent our frustration may seem to be in anger and violence. But when we lift thought to God and to understanding more about how we reflect His goodness, this will lift us out of even impossible situations. From the standpoint of God's infinite perfection such situations truly are impossible! We may have
to be patient and persistent in our efforts, but as we continue to pray we will see the effects of understanding God's goodness.
The means of overcoming limitation can be permanent rather than haphazard as we increasingly accept God as the infinite source of good. Then, because we express Him, we'll find ourselves less and less limited by destructive emotions.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, offers this assurance in her Miscellaneous Writings: "God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. These ideas are impartially available. They are not restricted by race, material intellect, economic level, or anything else. They are constantly available to lift us out of limitation, frustration, prejudice. But we have to be willing to want to grow in grace, to lift our own thought above violent thinking. W hen we do this, we'll see that we never need to feel hopeless, helpless, or frustrated.
Ye are our epistle written in our hearts,
known and read of all men:
forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared
to be the epistle of Christ
ministered by us,
written not with ink,
but with the Spirit of the living God . . . .
Now the Lord is that Spirit:
and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is liberty.
But we all, with open face
beholding as in a glass
the glory of the Lord,
are changed into the same image
from glory to glory,
even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
II Corinthians 3:2, 3, 17, 18