It was 5:45 a.m. - dark, except for a bluish tinge along the horizon. The streets were deserted. I was walking to the subway (called the "T" here in Boston) to go downtown to catch the first bus to Manhattan.
When I got to the station, this full-page Boston Herald headline blared at me from the newspaper kiosk: "Crime Soars on the T" (March 5). Not good news, especially at this lonely hour. Especially not for a woman like me - one who might look vulnerable, weighing in at perhaps 110 pounds in winter clothes.
But despite the news, I was not concerned. I had been praying since I left my house, and I continued to pray now. "Dear Father, You are infinite good. I am Your child. Everyone I meet today is Your child. You love us and bless us and keep us from harm. You have made us all harmless, useful, and indestructible. Thank You for Your unfailing care. Open my eyes to see it here in this place."
When I prayed this prayer, I deeply considered the words with my whole heart. I accepted their truth. The Bible says that God is able and willing to protect us from all harm. God protected David from the jealous king who tried many times to murder him (I Samuel, chapters 18-31). God protected Jesus from the angry mob that tried to push him off a cliff (Luke 4:16-31). God protected St. Paul from plots against his life in Damascus and Jerusalem (Acts 9:23-30).
The prophet Isaiah summed up God's protecting power when he quoted God's promise, "I the Lord ... will hold thine hand, and will keep thee" (Isa. 42:6). The Hebrew word translated keep means also guard, watch over, protect. God has promised to hold your hand and protect you! I learned long ago that the Bible's promises are not meant only for others better than ourselves, or for those from an earlier age or a distant land. They're meant for you and me today, wherever we are.
Since the time I was a teenager, I have lived in big cities. Many times, dangerous situations have driven me to pray to see more of the harmlessness inherent in God's creation. Mary Baker Eddy, the 19th-century theologian who started this newspaper, wrote in her bestselling book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "All of God's creatures ... are harmless, useful, indestructible" (page 514). She cited Genesis 1:31 as biblical authority for this view: "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."
A few months ago, I saw again the power of wholeheartedly accepting the harmless goodness of God's creation. I was on a subway in Manhattan. It was after midnight and the trains were crowded. I was with a friend whose stop was shortly before mine. As my friend left the train, a terrified stranger suddenly fell on me. A man had tried to stab him, missed, and ripped his down coat. Feathers exploded in the air. The man with the knife looked as though he was pulling out a gun.
There was a lot of screaming. The man with the knife and the man who had been attacked and all the passengers were running out of the train. Immediately, I prayed to God. I felt the conviction that I could not be a victim, see others as victims, or see someone as a killer. God's creation is, in truth, harmless and unharmed. That was what I could see.
In a matter of moments, everyone had abandoned the train and station except my friend, the transit authority employee, and myself. As my friend talked with the employee, who tried to reach the police, I continued praying to see that God was guarding each one of us from being harmed and doing harm. Suddenly, the armed man returned. I kept praying. Then the most surprising thing happened. He called to me and asked, "Are you all right?" I said I was, and he left.
Later I learned that no one had been hurt, including the man who had been attacked. God had opened our eyes to see the harmlessness and indestructibility of His creation. God had kept His promise to hold us by the hand and guard us.
God is watching over each of us. None of us can ever be outside His protective care.