Recently, my young teenage daughter and I traveled two continents away to the southernmost tip of Africa. We've traveled a fair amount - both separately and together - but this was farther than either of us had ever ventured.
What's more, we flew on separate itineraries - she and the others we were traveling with left five days earlier than I. So I had to get used to the idea of letting her go so far away without me.
A few weeks before her departure, we began preparing in earnest - setting clothes out and getting ahead on the schoolwork she would miss.
I wanted us to prepare for the trip spiritually as well. That week's Bible Lesson (from the Christian Science Quarterly) included the story of Moses' infancy (see Ex. 2:1-10). A vivid account of protection, this seemed like a good focus for praying about safe travels.
Moses was born during the time when Pharaoh had ordered Hebrew boys to be killed at birth. So his mother hid him for the first few months of his life. When that was no longer practical, she put him in an ark of bulrushes, which she placed on the edge of the Nile, where Pharaoh's daughter bathed. Moses' sister, Miriam, stood off to the side, waiting to see what would happen to her brother.
The Bible says that when Pharaoh's daughter discovered the crying baby, "she had compassion on him." Thanks to Miriam's intervention, Moses was safe, back in the arms of his mother for a few years before going to live with Pharaoh's daughter.
In considering the relevance of this story to our trip, we discussed the spiritual meaning of ark as it's defined in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," written by the Monitor's founder, Mary Baker Eddy. The first part of the definition is one word: "safety" (p. 581). I pointed out that in spiritual terms, we were traveling in the ark of God's safety. We could expect to be protected wherever we went by keeping our thoughts in this ark - attuned to God's creation, where evil is powerless to interrupt or overturn divine good.
That was enough for my daughter - a fearless adventurer - but I wanted more.
This line from the story was just what I needed: "[Moses' mother] took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein." The slime and pitch secured the ark so that water wouldn't seep through the holes.
An ark is only useful if it's watertight. Similarly, there's not much use in mentally putting ourselves in God's ark if we leave holes in our thinking for fears and worries to seep in. So I decided to patch my thinking with the "slime and pitch" of spiritual truths.
Anytime a fear about my daughter's or my own safety occurred to me, I immediately kicked it out of my thinking and replaced it with a spiritual fact that counteracted the fear. Keeping in mind the concept of slime and pitch helped me reject fears and worries the minute they occurred to me. Instead of giving them time to grow, I tossed them right out and then closed off the "leak" with a spiritual truth about God's omnipotence, for example, or about our inseparability from Him. Day after day, I prayed this way. By myself, in a group, even during conversations, if I detected a "leak," I promptly "slimed" it over with truth.
I was diligent in my prayers, and though quick and simple, they were powerful. I felt totally peaceful when my daughter left. And although I used to get restless after two hours on a plane, I had no trouble on either of my 17-hour flights. From start to finish, the trip was wonderful. Any hitches were easily dealt with, and we enjoyed deepening family bonds while exploring a new culture.
From now on, I'm bringing slime and pitch with me wherever I go.