Many people live in countries where avian flu has been a story of events unfolding at a distance, even though apprehensiveness of a potential pandemic brings the issue closer to home. That is how it felt in Britain until a swan recently washed up dead in picturesque Cellardyke, Scotland. Then the avian flu scare got a little more up close and personal.
As one who feels that fear can be a major factor in causing and sustaining individual disease and in spreading contagion, I was glad to see headlines, articles, and editorials in Britain on not panicking. However, this was not always the underlying message. One popular newspaper superimposed the words "Don't panic!" over a huge and harrowing graphic of the H5N1 virus. The effect was a bit like seeing a banner saying, "All is well," draped over a rhinoceros that happens to be charging at you full tilt.
As I have thought about this, I feel more can be done to address (and arrest) the spread of the fear of contagion even while society takes the practical steps it deems appropriate to curtail the spread of disease. I feel that prayer is a vital tool in humanity's arsenal against contagion, one to which all individuals have access and by which all can contribute.
As announcements of the spread of bird flu are reported on the nightly news, I feel I can play a part by responding in prayer to spoken or unspoken thoughts of a need to feel apprehensive about what might be coming down the line.
I would call the prayer I employ a type of spiritual rebellion. I say a silent but emphatic "no!" to the underlying sense of a need to fear for my own or humankind's future safety. This rebellious "no" is based on a confidence I have seen validated in my own experience that the power of the divine Mind, God, is equal, indeed superior, to the threat of flu.
The validation I am thinking of was a quick healing of flu I experienced a few years ago through the prayers of a Christian Science practitioner.
One minute I was so weak I felt I could hardly stand or move a muscle; yet, within a few minutes of asking for the practitioner's prayers, I found I had the energy and strength I needed to chair a three-hour business meeting. On my request for spiritual healing, the practitioner had been praying to see me as a child of God, unconditionally expressing God's well-being. What a difference it made. Some other symptoms remained overnight, but were gone the next morning.
On the basis of this and many other experiences of healing, I find myself rebelling against any resignation to the inevitability of avian flu spreading to, and among, humans. In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy, founder of The Christian Science Monitor, wrote of a mental force that "...said to the proud wave, 'Thus far and no farther.'" The full statement is "Adhesion, cohesion, and attraction are properties of Mind. They belong to divine Principle, and support the equipoise of that thought-force, which launched the earth in its orbit and said to the proud wave, 'Thus far and no farther' " (p. 124).
In my prayers I affirm this mental force of divine Mind, God, pronouncing not the words but the idea "Thus far and no farther!" to the assumption that avian flu need mutate and spread. Mind's mental force can surely arrest movement of the fear of disease and its effects - even among birds! - and stop it in its tracks, once and for all.