In May, angry mobs tore through the relatively peaceful streets of South African cities and villages, hunting down "foreigners." This outcry recalled the worst days of the anti-apartheid struggle that ended 14 years ago.
A New Yorker story described that violence as a stark reminder that about five million of the 50 million people who live in South Africa are themselves migrants from elsewhere on the continent. They came in the years since apartheid, looking for a home and better life – seeking political refuge, economic opportunity, or both (June 9, 16).
This question of finding a home in times of adversity isn't new, nor is it isolated to one part of the globe. It's a subject the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, contemplated. She was firm in her standpoint that not one of God's children can be outside the saving grace of His love. She wrote, "Our heavenly Father never destined mortals who seek for a better country to wander on the shores of time disappointed travellers, tossed to and fro by adverse circumstances, inevitably subject to sin, disease, and death." And she continued: "Divine Love waits and pleads to save mankind – and awaits with warrant and welcome, grace and glory, the earth-weary and heavy-laden who find and point the path to heaven" ("Message to The Mother Church for 1902," p. 11).
As the Bible and Mrs. Eddy's primary work, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," make clear, the spiritual sense of home is present within each of us. The Scriptures define home as secure in God, "our dwelling place in all generations" (Ps. 90:1). This place is the presence of God, who is infinite Spirit. God provides a home that cannot be diminished or destroyed, that isn't confined to walls and a roof. Everyone can say with assurance, "I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls" (Ezek. 38:11).
There is no room in this divine environment for menace, cowering fear, displacement, uncertainty. The "unwalled" place of God's kingdom is mental, not physical, and includes accommodations for all. You don't have to go anywhere to discover this heaven – a word Mrs. Eddy explained as "not a locality, but a divine state of Mind" (Science and Health, p. 291).
This is a concept worth grasping for anyone going through a "wilderness experience" in search of a better sense of identity, inner peace, stability – and home. Whether the wilderness is the uncertainty surrounding a decision to emigrate, or the challenges of finding a deeper sense of purpose, work, and home right where we live, the road forward requires spiritual discovery – that we are spiritual beings; that God is the Father-Mother of us all; and that the divine Parent cares for, sustains, and employs every idea in creation.
One's grasp of these facts breaks fear's hold and enables progress. Through prayerful self-discovery, we can come to an awakening similar to the one Jacob had after a night of sleeping in a stony place: "Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not" (Gen. 28:16).
However, to deepen one's appreciation of God's care for all, one needs to go beyond optimism or self-reliance to a deeper understanding of the source of fearlessness and hope. This standpoint restores calmness and hope – whether we're in a refugee camp; seeking asylum in a foreign (sometimes unwelcoming) land; or feeling like a stranger in our own community, home, family, or even church. Wherever we feel we don't belong, prayer can liberate us from any misconceptions about ourselves as limited material beings with limited prospects. Prayer can open the door to freedom, in the fullest sense.
Because God supplies courage, persistence, insight, and integrity, no one can ever be driven out of His kingdom by outraged citizens, hostile leaders, or forces of nature. But the initiative rests with us. Every day we are called upon to let God's life, and power, and spirit be our own. This enables us to reject the false concept, and accept the truth about our being that brings us home.
Adapted from the Christian Science Sentinel.