Have you ever been anxious because so many people around you were? Collective fear can be all-consuming.
If you've spent any time watching horses graze in a pasture, you know how all of a sudden the herd can bolt and run together. Watch closely, and you will notice that usually one horse starts it all. Then the rest of the group, even though they may have no perception of any danger, will gallop away. For a wild horse, running with the herd is probably the best strategy to keep from ending up as another animal's dinner.
But sometimes running with the herd is exactly what people should not do.
This past Sunday, I was traveling in a jet airliner similar to that of EgyptAir Flight 990, which had been lost earlier that morning. I could sense fear around me. For days, reports of golfer Payne Stewart's crash had filled newspapers and had been broadcast constantly on radio and television.
I'd been praying for the whole world, and now my prayer went somewhat along these lines: "The family and friends of the people on those planes can feel and know how close everyone always is to God. For eternity, we've all existed with God. Why? Because God is Life. God is divine Life, and because there is only one God, there is only one Life. God is the life of each man and woman and child. No incident of any kind can change that. The power and law of God can enable everyone to see that death does not follow life; life follows life."
In the Bible, there is an inspiring command on the same subject: "Choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: that thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days" (Deut. 30:19, 20).
It's not too late to "choose life" when we hear about victims of plane crashes. That is, a prayer of deep love for God can help us to recognize that God is the Life of all of us. Fear will retreat as we know the eternal nature that those people have as sons and daughters of the one Life. Fear for ourselves or for others does not have to control us. And there's no inevitable sequence to fear, even if the whole world is afraid. Be the concern something termed rational or irrational, God - our Life - is not threatened. God is All-in-all, and we are made to be God's very likeness. And somehow, even in times of terror, this simple recognition changes things.
I was happy to see a news report that told how another professional golfer, Ian Woosnam, had been flying in a private jet very similar to the one that was lost Oct. 25 in South Dakota. An apparently similar malfunction had occurred suddenly. There was no crash, however; the crew were able to work together efficiently, and everyone made it out of the sky intact.
Referring to the consistent knowledge that God is All as being the ultimate Science, the Monitor's founder, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, "In Science, man's immortality depends upon that of God, good, and follows as a necessary consequence of the immortality of good" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 81).
Our immortality depends on God's immortality. Our life "follows as a necessary consequence" of immortal Life.
We have a choice to make when confronted with anguish or terror. Certainly we need to feel love and deep compassion for human life, with all our hearts. Yet, we don't need to bolt in fear with every news story, running blindly along with the herd. This world is asking for the calm that comes with the knowledge that God is unchallenged. Immortal Life is unchallenged. So it is with joy that we can "run" with God, grateful that we all will always be His expression, the expression of divine Life.
This then is the message
which we have heard
of him, and declare unto
you, that God is light,
and in him is no
darkness at all.
I John 1:5
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society