I spoke this morning with a woman who lives in Washington, D.C. She was debating whether to go for her morning run on the Mall. The issue, understandably, was safety. Was it a safe thing to do? Was she foolish to even consider it? Or, if she didn't run, was she letting fear run her day?
Stories of more shootings by a sniper still not apprehended at this writing fill the newspapers and the airwaves. As this woman talked a bit more, it was clear that she was, before all other things, a mom. And her concerns were much more for the safety of her children than they were for herself. She didn't want fear to clog her thinking and living. Most of all, she didn't want to leave undone any task that might enhance the safety of her kids. What mom or dad wouldn't understand that in a heartbeat?
After the shooting of a 13-year-old outside the doors of his Maryland middle school, Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose said: "All of our victims have been defenseless, but now we're stepping over the line. Our children don't deserve this. I guess it's getting to be really, really personal now" (The Los Angeles Times, Oct 8). It's also getting to be really, really clear that along with the massive law-enforcement resources being poured into this case spiritual resources are at hand and urgently needed.
Perhaps the task not to be left undone is to draw on those spiritual resources. The task that will enhance the safety of our kids and our parents and even the friend we have yet to meet.
The Bible brims over with comfort for those that mourn, assurance for those who feel at risk, reminders of the Almighty's presence for each one of us. Consider a single Old Testament passage. It's Moses' final blessing on the tribe of Benjamin, but it delivers a timeless promise for us all: "The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders" (Deut. 33:12).
Of course, the promise of safety stands at odds with recent news reports and their message of unseen evil. And at this point we have a choice. We can crumble in fear of further dangers, or we take so seriously the safety- enhancing task of prayer that the threat itself has no choice but ultimately to crumble in the presence of the Almighty and the protection He promises.
If we were somehow able to behold the scene from the Almighty's vantage point, wouldn't we see that danger to us personally isn't just statistically unlikely but divinely impossible? Can we at least approach that vantage point? Can we glimpse, no matter how faintly, that we're each the beloved of the Lord?
Therefore each office worker, homemaker, student, retiree in the Washington area, is dwelling in safety by the God who is eternal Truth, ever-present Love. Dwelling "between his shoulders," to use Moses' poetic phrase, intended perhaps to convey not a physical location but the closeness, the tenderness, the might of the Most High's presence. None of us is ever outside the protective embrace of Truth and Love.
With each glimpse of these truths, we're performing the task we don't want to leave undone. We're drawing on the spiritual resources that bring comfort to grieving families and safety to fear-filled neighborhoods. We're holding to spiritual perceptions that underpin law-enforcement efforts to protect the community.
Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy offered these specifics, useful to anyone wanting to help with the spiritual tasks that will enhance the safety of everyone. "...[K]eep your minds so filled with Truth and Love, that sin, disease, and death cannot enter them. It is plain that nothing can be added to the mind already full. There is no door through which evil can enter, and no space for evil to fill in a mind filled with goodness. Good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort. And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 210).