AS Californians recover from the severe earthquake that hit the Los Angeles area, our prayers can help them even as efforts to restore normalcy to life and to put the infra- structure back together continue.
One way to reach out to those still in difficulties is to understand that God is ever-present Love and that this totally good Love is always with us. The Psalmist brings out this point when he declares: ``Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God'' (Psalms 90:1, 2). Christ Jesus' teachings help us understand this point and restore a clearer idea of God as good. His healing ministry shows the power of this understanding. He taught us to know God as ``our Father''--as a secure dwelling place, no matter what is going on around us.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, speaks of Jesus' mission and its significance to humanity in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In one place she writes, ``Jesus aided in reconciling man to God by giving man a truer sense of Love, the divine Principle of Jesus' teachings, and this truer sense of Love redeems man from the law of matter, sin, and death by the law of Spirit,--the law of divine Love'' (p. 19).
Jesus' life revealed the spiritual nature of man. This was the basis of his healing work. He understood that spiritual living and thinking enable us to perceive the continuity of good, the unbroken harmony of God's creation, even at moments when all we have worked for seems to have been taken from us. How can spirituality help us deal with the chaos brought on by an earthquake? To begin with, our prayers can affirm the innate spirituality of man, which includes qualities such as strength, intelligence, ingenuity, purity, patience, honesty. In times of stress, a recognition of these qualities will help those in the midst of trouble to rise to their higher spiritual nature instead of being overcome by the apparent evils around them. This combination of prayer that recognizes the spirituality of man and also affirms the presence of God has the capacity to alleviate material conditions. It does this by opening our eyes to what is real and powerful--namely, divine Love--the Lord who, the Psalmist declared, is ``our dwelling place in all generations.''
As we understand that God, divine Love, not material conditions, is in control, we become more confident that inspired solutions will be found for the problems faced by those who are restoring order and structure, as well as by those who are homeless and jobless. The recognition of God as ever-present Mind, or divine intelligence, helps us to see beyond the human picture of many different minds, all with different and possibly opposing points of view. Rather, understanding that Mind is One and that man's consciousness reflects this Mind reassures us that solutions can come about in a harmonious and intelligent way.
If the need is for water, food, shelter, and similar necessities, we can--as God's children--turn to divine Life and expect these needs to be met. The fear that some may take advantage of the disaster can be wiped out by understanding that good comes from divine Truth, the governor of all, not from preying on others. Our affirmation of Love's ever-presence can bring peace to individuals who continue to struggle with loneliness and fear.
``Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place'' speaks to all of us, whether we are recovering from an earthquake or other disaster or have never had to face such a challenge. As we pray to know that man is always in the care of his Lord, divine Love, our hearts will touch--and heal--the world.