Today's article in this week's Monitor series, "Mississippi Rising," reports that people living in "Mississippi Cottages," tiny houses provided by the state for those left homeless after hurricane Katrina, are facing a challenge from city and town governments. New guidelines for rebuilding seem to exclude these modest 450-square-foot houses, and at least some of their owners are stressed by that thought. But learning to work together with respect and flexibility is vital to rebuilding these communities.
While there is a lot more to be accomplished before the Gulf Coast is fully restored, community building is as important to establishing a sense of home as having a habitation is. Anyone who has returned to his or her village, city, or town knows the good feeling of "being home" as those familiar streets come into sight.
The Old Testament in the Bible speaks at length of the journeys made both by individuals and by large numbers of people in an effort to find a homeland and to discern what it takes to establish a community. One of the most relevant in this case may be the account of how Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, which had been torn down and the city left in ruins.
He and the people who were helping him faced not only the challenge of doing the work but also dangerous and tricky enemies. These people not only threatened the builders' lives but did everything they could to discredit Nehemiah in the process. It was a long, challenging process, but the people stuck with him, and most important, Nehemiah stuck with God. His account is peppered with phrases that echo this thought: "Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God" (Neh. 4:9).
This can be the prayer of both the homeowners and government officials – and our prayer in support of the rebuilding effort. While everyone may have ideas about what an ideal solution would be, to the degree that a mental outline of outcomes can recede and thought be open to an inspired idea from God, much good can be accomplished. And so many people have already been praying for these communities that it seems logical that divine guidance will continue to lead them to the best solution possible at this time.
There's a concept that Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of Christian Science, gained from her study of the Bible and that seems especially relevant to this situation. It's the thought of God as the only Mind. Each of us is created by Mind as its idea, or child. This means that we express qualities of Mind including – but not limited to – intelligence, wisdom, foresight, love, goodness, truth, life. Within that context, Mind provides everything needed to fulfill its purpose for each individual.
In a very real sense, prayer that affirms the oneness of Mind will do much to eliminate conflict. Guidance from infinite Mind can foresee and forestall mistaken directions, reveal unity where there was division, and uncover dishonesty so that right decisions prevail. Another quality of God that is found in the Bible is Love. Divine Love is the power that comforts hearts and provides the healing balm that erases past angers, fears, feuds.
Calling on God's power to bless and heal these individuals and their communities opens the way to "cementing" them back together as a restored and improved unit. As Mary Baker Eddy put it in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "The cement of a higher humanity will unite all interests in the one divinity" (p. 571).
With the infinite intelligence and love of God to guide and unite them, both individuals and communities will be blessed and strengthened.