The hooded specter pointed its craggy finger for me to follow up the rocky precipice. I followed, hypnotized with fear. He insisted I look at a horrifying picture of massive suffering and death. I woke up, shuddering from the nightmare that had broken my sleep.
That dream I had 20 years ago occasionally comes to mind when I'm struggling with the feeling that no matter how much you stand up for what you believe in, ultimately evil wins. But I didn't believe that evil had the final word 20 years ago, and I don't believe it now.
During a recent hard time, I asked one of my octogenarian mentors if the longer you live, the more you have to fight to believe in goodness. Tenderly she laughed, "No, Dear, the longer you live, the more goodness you see."
I know she's right when I hear a child laugh; I feel the promise of goodness when two friends of mine get connected for the first time; I see it in the sky, the beauty of the seasons, and even the aroma of fresh cucumbers. I know the truth of goodness when my husband has patience with my willfulness, and his weaknesses seem insignificant. The power of God's love was palpable when a deep cut in my finger was healed in 48 hours. God's goodness enables me to forgive and helps me understand people even when they behave badly.
The power of God, good, gives me hope even when the news reports war, gun violence, and death from viruses and diseases as well as self-destructive practices. Instinctively I find myself drawn to these startling words of Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy: "Life is real, and death is the illusion" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 428).
What does this mean for the loved ones left behind; for the countries deprived of their youth; for the businesses, schools, and churches with painful gaps among their workers, teachers, children, and members?
It means we are being given the privilege, the responsibility, the command to believe in God as divine Life, the source of all goodness and permanence, and to recognize everyone as inseparable from His love and care. Even in the midst of cruelty and hate, it's possible to find evidence that ultimately God's love is what's truly governing the family of man.
To think of death as an illusion means more when considering a dictionary definition that's far from "benign mist or mirage." Illusion is a deliberate attempt to deceive or disappoint. It reminds me of what the Bible calls the carnal mind that speaks lies counter to God's Word.
To expose this voice as evil is to employ the means for destroying it. Exposing the carnal mind – not God – as the conduit for death education separates the lies and evildoing from the man of God's creating. God's child is not the perpetrator of death, its victim, or its witness. God's man is the evidence that God is real. God's image and likeness manifests nothing unlike its divine source, nor does He desire anything less than total good.
According to Christian Science, the Mind of God that Jesus taught is the only Mind of the universe. This Mind voices blessing, power, and ever-present Love. It speaks to us daily of God's care.
Some scholars connect the Irish word for "evil" to the word for failure. We can call evil all that would undermine, weaken, belittle, and defeat. But to honor the omnipotence of God's goodness is to devote ourselves to all that inspires, enriches, uplifts, and strengthens.
Reinforcing Jesus' perspective on evil as "the lie and the Father of it," Mary Baker Eddy directed her followers, "Finally, brethren, let us continue to denounce evil as the illusive claim that God is not supreme, and continue to fight it until it disappears, – but not as one that beateth the mist, but lifteth his head above it and putteth his foot upon a lie" ("Christian Science versus Pantheism," p. 6).
Each of us has an indwelling, uncompromised instinct to agree with life. This inward voice frees us from fear and dread, and it rededicates us to hope and healing.