My wife often teases me about the time she asked me to watch her purse, which she had left with me in a public place while she went to a restroom. When she returned, it was obvious to her that I hadn't once looked up from what I was doing to check on her bag. It was untouched, though.
In my own way I had been watching, however. Anyone who had wanted to get to the purse would have had to come through a door first, and I'd been listening for the sound of the door opening while my back was turned. You could say I had been watching with my ears. I'd been alert to any threat, only in a different way than was expected of me.
Watching with one's ears might sound like a contradiction, but I have learned that there are indeed different ways of watching. In fact, my favorite way of watching doesn't use any of the physical senses. It uses the God-given spiritual sense that we all have.
It wasn't always that way for me. Growing up in a large city, working and hanging out in the city center, I prided myself on an alertness I felt I maintained through the acuteness of my sight and hearing, coupled with a sharp instinct I felt I could trust to warn me of potential danger. As a young adult, I liked the adrenalin rush of leaning on personal savvy for my safety. That, and the fact that I did get through most days unscathed, gave me the feeling of being streetwise.
On the other hand, though, I also felt a constant, nagging fear because I always sensed danger lurking just around the corner.
A line from a rock song helped me: "You got to be more than streetwise." These words conveyed to me the idea that everyone has access to a wisdom more powerful than even the best the world can offer. This more potent wisdom, I've found, is spiritual and is perceived through knowing God. It is the understanding of everyone's true nature as God's image and likeness, as the Bible presents in Genesis. This wisdom is seen in the life of Christ Jesus, in his healing acts, in his proving his own immunity from danger. He once walked unharmed through a hostile crowd that was bent on killing him (see Luke 4:16-30).
To the degree I've understood how the works of Jesus prove that all humanity are really God's children - governed by God's law of good - I've felt a more substantial sense of security. This has greatly reduced my anxiety. Instead of trusting personally honed instincts, I've come to rely on God's gift of spiritual intuition to establish my own safety and to help me support others in gaining a clearer sense of their safety, too.
This change of attitude - from one of watching out for trouble to watching within for an understanding of God's government of all - seems to have kept me out of harm's reach for many years. I can remember specific instances of being shielded from danger. One night, for example, I was riding in an empty train car. A drunken man got on and threatened to slash me with a steel comb. I had been praying earlier, and felt a deep conviction that everyone is God's child, able to express only good. Consequently, I responded to this man as though he were a friend, not a potential foe. I smiled and spoke to him warmly. The threat immediately faded. We actually spent the rest of the ride in conversation.
Mary Baker Eddy discovered Christian Science, the law of God, which enabled Jesus to heal. She proved the power of prayer to ensure her own safety, facing down both an assassination attempt and a bomb threat through trusting in God's power and love. Her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" explains that the ark spoken of in the Bible can be seen to represent "safety; the idea, or reflection, of Truth ... the understanding of Spirit, destroying belief in matter" (Pg. 581).
We can watch and pray to have this ark of spiritual understanding. With it, we can see ourselves and all others as "the idea, or reflection, of Truth [God]." This is the sure way to improve our record of feeling and being safe, and to help others find the same freedom.
You can read other articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.