I recently visited the Hall of Biodiversity at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. The exhibit sends a resounding message: we are decimating our planet, and unless drastic measures are taken, the future of human life is in jeopardy.
What's the solution? A video offered several useful answers, including cutting human consumption of resources, using alternative energy sources, and protecting endangered species.
A more radical proposal was suggested by Albert Einstein in a quotation on a wall in the exhibit: "We cannot solve the problems that we have created with the same thinking that created them."
What really solves problems? God, the one and only Mind. God made all He created to be exactly as good as Himself. And intelligent. And pure. And loving. And spiritual.
Thinking about this is really prayer. Any quiet, humble listening to God establishes the truth in our thought. A recognition, an understanding, that we are each made in God's image and likeness reveals a universe that is under God's control.
I found this spiritual perspective to be a useful start to prayer during a recent trip to Southeast Asia. People had warned me about the animosity and resentment Cambodians and Laotians had toward Americans, resulting in large part from the United States' military actions in that part of the world during the 1960s and '70s.
I quietly remembered in prayer that despite that historical record, God has nevertheless made us in His spiritual image, not subject to conflict; that our heritage from God is eternal life, not mortality; that because we reflect God, who is divine Love, we are not at the mercy of hateful or vengeful thoughts. Constantly I kept in thought that humankind is more than a collection of ethnicities with variable feelings. We belong to one functioning family. We're all children of our Father-Mother.
Particularly helpful was a Bible statement: "There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all" (Col. 3:11).
Focusing on these spiritual facts, I did not encounter any hostility during my three-week trip. Much the opposite, I made many new friends, even visited their homes. I encountered sincere goodwill and felt safe. My most enduring memories are of countless heartfelt smiles I saw every day, everywhere.
This was proof to me that it's really the right kind of thinking that solves our problems. That divine Love is supreme - a fact we can see more clearly through prayer. Because God is good, His universe and everything in it are subject only to His laws of good.
The most wonderful thing about this metaphysical understanding of the universe is that, when made the basis for a person's thought patterns, it heals. It is what gave Christ Jesus power to heal the sick and raise the dead and calm the storm. I have had physical healings of nosebleeds, impaired eyesight, and fevers through prayer alone.
In explaining God's creation, Mary Baker Eddy, the author of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," wrote: "The true theory of the universe, including man, is not in material history but in spiritual development. Inspired thought relinquishes a material, sensual, and mortal theory of the universe, and adopts the spiritual and immortal" (pg. 547).
At first, the matter-is-nothing/ Spirit-is-All proposition seems outlandish. That's because we're using only the five senses to judge the situation. But when viewed through spiritual sense - through the understanding of God, divine Love - the proposition becomes totally practical. Turning away from a problem to God is in no way avoiding the problem. Just the opposite, it is the best way to tackle it. By looking to God, you uncover the facts, and you find discord to be essentially a false belief, an illusion. You discover the spiritual reality of the situation, the truth of being. And this heals.
It was a glimpse of spiritual truth that allowed me, during those moments of contemplation at the museum, to feel joy, uplift, peace. I knew, without doubt, that there are answers to whatever threatens the earth and its people, answers found in understanding and expressing God.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society