Heroism in the New Zealand earthquake

A Christian Science perspective: Prayer for rescuers and those awaiting rescue in New Zealand after the earthquake can help bring guidance and encouragement.

It is a terrible thing to experience an earthquake such as the one that occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Tuesday. The earth’s foundation shook dramatically, causing buildings to collapse and people to scrabble along falling corridors in order to escape the destruction.

Circumstances sometimes come up that leave us bereft of all our usual reference points and comforts, physically and emotionally. But from this debris there can rise inspiring acts of goodness that literally and figuratively carry us beyond the devastation. And these acts of goodness can be supported by prayer.

I watched a news report showing office workers carrying their colleagues out of collapsed buildings. Courage rose naturally because the need for it was suddenly there. Involuntary tears sprang to my eyes as I recognized this impromptu heroism and bravery.

I remembered scenes of similar heroism in many countries – after a mudslide, a wildfire, a flood, a cyclone, a tsunami. This earthquake struck close to home – I live in neighboring Australia – and required, as such a disaster always requires, intelligent and compassionate prayer based on spiritual insight. Offering this was a way I could help support the acts of heroism I was viewing on the news report.

However far away I am from such disasters, this statement by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, reassures me that prayer can make a difference: “It is not well to imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number or for a limited period of time, since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 494).

Immediately this prayer can be applied to those awaiting rescue and to those who are looking for survivors. Now, to every New Zealander, divine Love is supplying all good. Divine Love is a name for God, and so is Life. Love and Life have not been separated from the people of Christchurch or those of any other city that has experienced similar events.

Communities wait to hear how rescue workers have fared in finding survivors, some of whom have “tweeted” their locations in the debris. Our prayer can recognize the omnipresence of Love and Life. Prayer that is conscious of Love’s sustaining presence for those who wait amid the rubble, of Life’s stabilizing and protecting presence across a city of dangerously unstable structures. Such prayer counters arguments of frustration or hopelessness because it insists on God’s guiding and strengthening presence. Love and Life are also bringing to the whole mental environment of Christchurch and its surroundings a sense of calm. It is inspiring the rescue workers so that acts of heroism become natural.

Mary Baker Eddy observed something of Jesus’ heroism, and expressed it in timeless terms: “The great Way-shower illustrated Life unconfined, uncontaminated, untrammelled, by matter” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 30). That element of the eternal Christ – “Way-shower” – is operating today, in the aftermath of this earthquake, and in other areas around the world, because “to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good.”

The Way-shower continues to point out that “Life is unconfined, uncontaminated, untrammelled, by matter” right in New Zealand. This statement counters pictures of entrapment by concrete, contamination of water supplies, and obstructions to rescue. Wherever such a condition appears, prayer can confidently affirm the omnipresence of Life and Love, sustaining the work on the ground through God’s law of good.

Prayer also helps human speculation step aside, as each involved citizen can hear God’s law through spiritual intuition. This law is now imparting peace, order, life, compassion, and intelligence, and this law is on the ground. It is felt. It draws attention toward itself and away from panic and fear. This results in greater order and evidence of life. Prayer is life-affirming and supports natural acts of selfless heroism, large and small. It shows humanity to be divinely loved and free.

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