Living several thousand miles from my English homeland, I miss having easy access to the British countryside - the Yorkshire moors, the Derbyshire Peaks, the Lak e District, the Welsh valleys, the Scottish Highlands. I also miss the less dramatic, but no less beautiful, rolling English hills.
If it's tough to be so far from such familiar beauty, one thing that might be tougher is to be near to it - right on its doorstep - and yet still be so far. That's one of the consequences of the current foot and mouth contagion. According to one news report, almost three quarters of the British countryside is out of bounds. With spring approaching, that's a crying shame. It's also a costly blow to the tourism industry.
Even so, lost access to rural beauty is just a nuisance compared to the tragedy causing it. The lives of hundreds of thousands of livestock and the livelihood of farmers are threatened. And the rest of the world is looking on apprehensively.
That apprehension may be worth noting. As the effect of the mind/body connection is becoming more widely acknowledged in relation to human health issues, it's important to ask whether this connection also applies to the broader environment - including the spread of contagious disease among animals. Is human fear a factor in the health of farm animals?
Most pet owners have seen that pets can be sensitive to their owner's moods. It's not such a stretch to wonder if animals are influenced by the broader thought around them, too, especially a strong emotion of fear. If this is the case, then it's worth asking if there is a stronger mental influence that can counteract susceptibility to fear - namely, a spiritual understanding that antidotes fear.
Prayer to understand God's loving control of all creation quiets fear and apprehension, no matter how justified they appear given the circumstances. God truly creates all creatures spiritually, not materially. When praying people affirm that God loves and controls creation, it helps dissolve fear and bring needed solutions to light for any problem.
Seen in the spiritual light of how God creates them, cattle and other livestock can't harm or be harmed. Instead, they conform to the following description: "All of God's creatures, moving in the harmony of Science, are harmless, useful, indestructible." This spiritual perspective is found in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (pg. 514). Its author, Mary Baker Eddy, was a nineteenth century pioneer of Mind-healing, which she defined as cure by the divine Mind, God. (She also founded this newspaper).
In Science and Health she explained the role of fear in the spread of disease, and she also explained the much greater spiritual power available to roll back such fear: "The cause of all so-called disease is mental, a mortal fear, a mistaken belief or conviction of the necessity and power of ill-health; also a fear that Mind is helpless to defend the life of man and incompetent to control it. Without this ignorant human belief, any circumstance is of itself powerless to produce suffering" (pg. 377). This indicates that the power that counters the fear of disease is the understanding that divine Mind maintains the life and health of its creation under all circumstances. Science and Health goes on to say "Disease is less than mind, and Mind can control it" (pg. 378).
People anywhere can help make divine Mind's control more apparent in the world through prayer. By filling consciousness with trust in God's good power, even one person can contribute to lifting the general fear of contagion. And this lifting of fear can in turn support clear thinking and wise decisions on the part of everyone involved in this situation.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor