This was considered to be an American-type horror, although it is the last thing any US leader would want to publicize here or export elsewhere. But the focus, for at least one day, was on a Russian teenager from Moscow who, in imitation of all-too-many similar scenes in America, opened fire in his high school, killing two people and wounding another. As I took in the news, a basic spiritual fact – already true but seemingly invisible for that moment – seemed in need of underscoring: Not one of God’s creatures is inclined to imitate or perpetuate evil of any kind.
Because God, divine Spirit, created His sons and daughters as good, the innate, natural inclination of that creation is to imitate good. Divine good directs its creation to safer, surer, and better pathways. I’d gotten the smallest hint of this direction, the tiniest reminder of it, just a few days before the shooting. I’d gone kayaking on a nearby mountain lake. And once I was out on the water, I found, to my delight, that I was alone. At least, that was my initial impression.
Then I noticed a large flock of small ducks that shared the lake with me. The lake is big enough that the ducks and I could easily give one another needed space. Eventually, though, a duck took flight. Then, in friendly imitation, so did another. And then, in still further imitation, another took flight. Then, a glorious explosion of birds – perhaps a thousand of them – filled the sky over the next five or 10 seconds. From their point of view, I suppose, the imitation of one right after another was a natural expression of the desire for safety and security and harmony. It certainly had nothing to do with who could be the most devastating, or what could be the most heartbreaking.
A Bible passage, filled with healing, crossed my mind: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). Those that “wait upon the Lord” are, in one sense, like waiters in a restaurant who, with each act of service, get better at it. So those who wait upon the Lord are renewing their divine strength, gaining their spiritual altitude, and amplifying their God-bestowed endurance. This spiritual renewal quickens them. It nudges thought toward ending horrific happenings springing from awful imitations. The waiters on God are His children, His likeness, His image. To glimpse oneself – or the would-be perpetrator – from a higher vantage point is to pray. And that is to engage a powerful agent of change.
Prayer directs us to see ourselves and others as the image of God. Prayer is the spiritual knowing and seeing that captures a “God’s eye view” of the scene. Thought takes flight. We then see ourselves and others with a bit more spiritual precision. Such prayer emanates from the one divine source, the all good, God, whom we all reflect naturally and consistently. This prayer can help eliminate any imitating or repetition of evil actions and instead bring healing to all anywhere on the planet.