Dealing With Disaster
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
When my wife and I visited Peggy's Cove on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia some years ago, we recognized how its unique landscape of bare, smooth rock, the lone lighthouse, the tiny harbor sheltering fishing boats, the colorful cottages, had made this town so attractive to artists and tourists. But little did we imagine that it would one day receive worldwide attention for a very different and tragic reason - as being so near the crash site of Swissair Flight 111.
For the local people, there was no doubt as to how they could help in that emergency. Fishermen helped search for bodies and wreckage. Residents offered accommodation for grieving relatives.
But what can those of us who live far away do to help in a disaster like that? Feeling sad or helpless or fearful just adds to the grief and loss. And we need to help lift that gloom. This we can do, through discerning a deeper, higher reality that lies beyond the realm of tragedy and loss. In other words, through prayer that begins with God as the creative Principle of His entirely good creation, which is indestructible and permanent because it is spiritual.
This is the view of creation given in the first chapter of Genesis, where "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (verse 31). The second and following chapters of Genesis present an allegory that portrays the heartbreak and tragedy that result from a misconception of creation as beginning materially rather than spiritually. The Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, discusses this spiritual basis of God's creation. Christian Science explains that all human woes and disasters have at their base some aspect of this material misconception of what constitutes God's reality.
How can we pray from the standpoint of God's spiritual, indestructible creation, to help alleviate some of the problems resulting from that devastatingly destructive Swissair crash? First, there are all those passengers and crew members with their human lives suddenly cut short by death. But is death an end? Or is it merely a transition? The Bible, in recording Christ Jesus' resurrection after he'd been crucified, pronounced dead, and buried, shows that death does not end an individual's continuing existence. So we can pray to realize that God is Life, the continuing source of all that really lives. Thus we may begin to gain some awareness that those who were killed are actually continuing to live their lives, though in a different state of consciousness.
We can also pray that those who are grieving over the loss of loved ones can be helped to look beyond the retrieval of bodies, to glimpse something of this uninterrupted continuity of the life of each of those they can no longer see. We can come to see that none of those grieving ones can be separated for a moment from God, who is universal Love - who is always supporting, sustaining, comforting, mothering, fathering, and caring for each one of His ideas, able to lift them out of grief and loss. They can never actually lose the good they've gained from their loved ones, because it's in their consciousness. And all that each of us holds in consciousness is ours forever.
What about those who've had the task of identifying bodies and airplane parts, and of searching for the cause of the crash? They need stamina, persistence, patience, clear perception, intelligence, judgment, wise guidance, deep insight. We can affirm in our prayer that all such qualities belong to God as infinite, divine Mind, and that Mind is constantly expressing its qualities in each one of its ideas; that each individual involved in such challenging tasks is actually reflecting Mind's limitless qualities.
Prayer that starts by acknowledging the perfection and indestructibility of God's creation blesses far more than just the one praying. It includes all whom that one embraces in his or her thought and love. Suppose 20 people were in a dark room, and only one knew where the light switch was. One person's turn of the switch would make the connection with the power source, and so bring light to everyone in the room. Prayer makes a connection with God's law of perpetual good, which enlightens all those embraced in the "room" of one's consciousness - blessing everyone in need of God's comforting love.