I was just noticing the especially blue sky, when the too-loud plane flying too low passed over our apartment and seconds later with a popping thud left a black outline in the first tower. And utterly silenced New York City.
I knew intuitively that in the days ahead there would be a need, as never before, to make a conscious effort to preserve spiritual innocence – in me and in others.
Instead of watching the towers collapse, I prayed to be acutely aware of God. One activity of God's saving Christ, as Isaiah prophesied his coming, is "to refuse the evil, and choose the good" (7:15). God has made us capable of perceiving Him and resisting evil, regardless of the circumstances. It felt essential to maintain this capacity.
In my prayers, I've recalled as a useful metaphor a night decades ago when our home was invaded, and I was alone with our small children. After searching the house and determining that the intruder was gone, I instinctively took a pillow and blanket and lay down in front of our children's bedroom doors to guard them.
I've asked myself, am I willing to guard what is precious and instilled by God in consciousness with the diligence and determination I felt that night for my children? Untarnished, pure thinking is precious and worth protecting.
The Psalmist wrote, "My soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast" (Ps. 57:1).
Since 9/11, many would say that New Yorkers, Americans, and, to some degree, the whole world, has been left feeling vulnerable and jaded. According to recently divulged plots in London, and terrorist activities around the globe in the past five years, these calamities – or the threat of them – have not yet passed.
This does not, however, overshadow the fact that God is with us, breaking the spell of evil, until these kinds of extremities diminish and ultimately cease altogether. Until they do, we can choose to turn to Him. We can find refuge in the protection of His pure thoughts. God did not make and does not know evil. Paul stated in the Bible, "I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil" (Rom. 16:19).
Yielding to the divine Love that actually surrounds us – letting it pervade our consciousness – improves our own mentality and, in turn, our lives. As the Bible's book of James puts it: "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you" (4:8).
It is through being armed with the conviction of the all-power and goodness of God that we can be of real use to the world.
In an address in 1895, Mary Baker Eddy, founder of this newspaper as an aid to the world, declared to the congregation: "Beloved children, the world has need of you, – and more as children than as men and women: it needs your innocence, unselfishness, faithful affection, uncontaminated lives. You need also to watch, and pray that you preserve these virtues unstained, and lose them not through contact with the world. What grander ambition is there than to maintain in yourselves what Jesus loved, and to know that your example, more than words, makes morals for mankind!" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 110).
This is not putting our heads in the sand and hoping for the best. It is, rather, facing evil equipped with good, and overthrowing it in our lives by asserting the power of goodness itself.
Now, five years from that morning, I'm still watching the door of my thought, guarding it in order to know God's presence, and to affirm that each of us is in His care and under His wing, never to be removed.