THE Bible holds this promise: ``For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens'' (II Corinthians 5:1). Even though Paul is talking here about human life and the body, this verse can also offer a starting point for those who have lost homes in the recent fires in southern California. For people everywhere it hints that there is a permanent, invulnerable sense of home.
Does the devastation press us forward to seek what is permanent? Then, we have begun to turn from the tragedy toward solutions. Faced with a now-blackened lot where a residence recently stood, though, one may wonder, What does it mean to have a ``house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens''? One thing is certain. This true home is ours today, not just in some future time. The God in whom we dwell is with us today. The roof and the walls of our house may be gone, but God, indestruct-ible Truth and Love, never changes. And God's boundless love for His children is here.
The Bible reveals that the true nature of man and the universe is wholly spiritual, created to express God, divine Spirit. All true substance, then, is eternal, invulnerable. Being and substance are not truly material and susceptible to harm or destruction. This appears to be the case to the limited, material senses, ignorant of spir-itual reality. But this material view of things is fundamentally erroneous; and because this is true, we can overcome the challenges of mortal existence, as Christ Jesus demonstrated.
As this God of Love and Truth becomes more real, more tangible, to us, the Bible promises take on practical meaning. It is in our understanding of Him, and through His love for us, that we find what is truly lasting.
This is not simply to provide a religious wash to a heart-rending scene. Nor is it to offer only emotional comfort. Christian Science underscores how our understanding of God has a profoundly transforming impact. Thought imbued with an understanding of divine Love's realness and ever-presence is actually substantial. More substantial than material things. Is our concept of home largely material, and therefore vulnerable: lumber, shingles, carpet, mortgage payments? Or is our sense of what home really is moving in the direction of that which is spiritual, and therefore lasting: love, warmth, light, beauty, safety?
To grasp the spiritual essence of home is not to evade the practical necessities of rebuilding. Christ Jesus' own grasp of the spiritual nature of man did not evade the practical necessity of physical healing. It actually brought such healing about. Spiritualized thought embraces and transforms human experience.
Don't simply wait for evidence of good to appear, however. Realize that right now ideas of Truth and Love have form and substance and permanence. This realization begins to bring those ideas into evidence. As we glimpse something of the spiritual qualities that make up that ``house built without hands,'' solutions appear where before there was only despair. Rebuilding efforts--our own or others--then go forward on a firmer basis.
Building codes may change. There's already talk of requiring more fire-resistant materials for roofing. More information of a preventive nature is becoming available. Certain types of plants with low combustibility are being recommended for use around houses. To the degree this discussion is not fanned by fear but informed by wisdom, it expresses in some degree the intelligence that comes from God, the source of all true wisdom. Then the codes that evolve will be of maximum benefit.
The most important issue, though, remains the issue of our thought. What sense of home, of community, of environment, are we entertaining? As we draw our thought from the divine Mind, we will be doing ourselves and our community the greatest service. It is in a more spiritually imbued consciousness that we come to see the permanence of every right idea, including the right idea of home. Daily we can claim more of this consciousness and thereby help ourselves and others experience a safer environment. We will have taken a step in removing vulnerability from our lives.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, once wrote, ``Our surety is in our confidence that we are indeed dwellers in Truth and Love, man's eternal mansion'' (Pulpit and Press, p. 3). This true home can never be lost.
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
the Lord is the strength of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid? . . .
One thing have I desired of the Lord,
that will I seek after;
that I may dwell
in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
and to inquire in his temple.
For in the time of trouble
he shall hide me in his pavilion:
in the secret of his tabernacle
shall he hide me;
he shall set me up upon a rock. . . .
Wait on the Lord:
be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart:
wait, I say, on the Lord.
Psalms 27:1, 4, 5, 14