My friend's voice was filled with fear as she told me something a boy in my son's third-grade class had said. He'd told three classmates that he had a gun at home - and was going to bring it to school the next day and shoot everyone.
It was known that there was a gun in his house. My friend said the boy's teacher and the school principal had been told of the situation. I knew that I would have to discuss this with my son.
Given the recent number of tragic incidents involving children and guns at school, I was concerned. l quietly turned to God. For some time now I've been praying consistently for the children of the world. It is a joy for me to cherish their innocence and purity, their natural freedom from wrong and attraction to good. Understanding that God is their Father and Mother, and that for this reason good is their only ancestry, enables me to see who they really are.
An inspired presentation of the identity of children is found in the Bible, and the Christian Science textbook gives this description: "The spiritual thoughts and representatives of Life, Truth, and Love" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 582). God's children are spiritual expressions of Him - of Life, not death; Truth, not error; Love, not hate or anger.
A second part of that description depicts the exact opposite: "Sensual and mortal beliefs; counterfeits of creation ..." (Pg. 583). The boy threatening his classmates with death was clearly presenting the counterfeit picture of God's child. A counterfeit is not true. Here was an opportunity for me to understand this boy's spiritual nature, and through the action of my prayer to separate the counterfeit picture of him from the very "image" and "likeness" of God (see Gen. 1:26). Such prayer acts as a preventive to defuse the anger and alienation that often lead to disruptive and volatile behavior.
This is a Christian perspective. Christ Jesus dearly loved children. He understood that they were children of God. He loved their spiritual nature. It was this concept of children that I had deeply cherished in my prayers and had encouraged my son to value as well. We drew a circle of love that included all the children whom we knew and saw, even all the children of the world, in the loving embrace of God.
There had been so many opportunities to cherish the goodness of each child and to "lift off" the discord. When my son would come home from school and tell me about a child who wasn't acting right, we would pray to see the spiritual nature of that boy or girl as being loving and good. Invariably these little situations were healed. The little boy next door, who was a problem for everyone, became more thoughtfully kind; the classmate who came to our house not feeling well left healed; a little girl in the shopping mall who was crying uncontrollably was comforted. Once, we came upon a young boy who had just been hit by a car. I came to him and knelt down. His eyes, filled will fear, met mine, and he began to talk to me. "Tell me this is just a dream," he said. I told him, "God loves you with an everlasting love. In God's love, this could not be. You are always safe in His arms." The fear went out of his eyes and he smiled. His mother arrived and took care of him. It is by following the teachings of Jesus that we can lovingly reach all children.
My son and I shared these ideas. This situation at school was another opportunity to see this boy as the true child of God, who must act in accord with God, divine Principle and Love. As the reflection of the divine Mind, he included the qualities of wisdom and reason, not unreasonable or irrational behavior. When my son went to school the next day, he was at peace. No one mentioned the incident to the boy who had threatened everyone. When he later moved away, every classmate wrote him a kind letter. A poem by Edwin Markham says, "He drew a circle that shut me out -/ Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout./ But Love and I had the wit to win:/ We drew a circle that took him in!"
We may or may not have children who go to school. But we can - when we see a school bus, pass a playground, or slow down at a school crossing - prayerfully draw a circle of love around all the children of the world and deeply cherish their God-given goodness. This promotes their safety.