We've probably all seen those arresting pictures. A small, mostly blue sphere we call Earth, looking so peaceful, beautiful, and calm - when viewed from a space station. If we consider our planet from this perspective long enough, inevitably we wonder: How can something that looks so orderly and harmonious from way out there be so disorderly at street level, right down here where I live and work?
We might even find ourselves asking, Is disorder more inherent to human existence than order?
Where is the ordering "hand of God" when and where we really need it?
One answer to the first question is, It depends on the kind of lens you're looking through.
The human condition is a mixture of good and evil, of the noble and ignoble, of spiritual brightness and material dimness. In the Bible's book of Ecclesiastes there's the familiar phrase, "To every thing there is a season," and the poem/sermon that follows depicts the ups and downs of human life: "A time to break down, and a time to build ... A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together" (3:1, 3, 5).
That's life from the human, mortal, material perspective. Material things fall apart, and can be washed every which way, as anyone who's been through a hurricane or tsunami knows all too well.
Soon after that poignant song's take on human life's variableness, though, "the Preacher" comes to a remarkable conclusion: "I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it" (3:14). And God does it, the passage continues, that we might stand in awe and reverence before this indelible, immovable creation.
The creation of the limitless Holy Spirit could not be made of shifting sands or even the most solid stone. What "God doeth" is done in and of Spirit and must be spiritual, and therefore lasting, brilliant, alive, whole, ordered, purposeful.
Beside the marginal heading "Mind's true camera" in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy observed: "The crude creations of mortal thought must finally give place to the glorious forms which we sometimes behold in the camera of divine Mind, when the mental picture is spiritual and eternal. Mortals must look beyond fading, finite forms, if they would gain the true sense of things" (p. 264).
No material force or phenomenon can alter this spiritual reality in which each God-created individuality lives and breathes and has purposeful function.
Every mental step we take out of the confines of matter is an act of liberation that in some measure blesses and liberates all men, women, and children.
Conscientious Christian healers, however, don't turn their backs on suffering humanity as they witness this shift from materiality to spirituality within. Following the example of Christ Jesus makes us yet more compassionate, more willing to lend a hand in aid, and certainly, readier to pray for our brothers' and sisters' freedom from suffering.
Just over six months ago, some 300,000 people in New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf Coast region lost all, or nearly everything, they owned. For many residents that "everything" wasn't very much as the world measures net worth. This stark fact itself has prompted much introspection and prayer around the world. And it should prompt more.
Yet, the little or plenty these dear people once had gave them a place they called home, a feeling of order and structure, a measure of control. Losing one's belongings to wind and water is hard enough; losing one's sense of belonging and stability can be a greater challenge.
That's where the "hand of God" - the Christ-power that heals and restores order - comes to help as no human hands can. Christ moves us to care and respond so long as there are brokenhearted in need of mending. Helping could never drain the healer, because Christ, the living Truth of God's constant presence and care, does the repairing and restoring.
Christ is God's light, revealing the real order of things that exists right where disorder and discouragement have persisted in a storm's aftermath. Or in a war's winding down. " 'Let there be light,' is the perpetual demand of Truth and Love," Mrs. Eddy wrote, quoting Genesis 1, "changing chaos into order and discord into the music of the spheres" ("Science and Health," p. 255).
This is the season for just that kind of song, for being the sweet song God is singing.
First published as an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.