Memorial Day and celebrating eternal life

A Christian Science perspective: A visit to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor brings new appreciation for heroes and eternal life.

Photo: Marco Garcia/AP/File
The USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This popular site at Pearl Harbor is actually a grave, a resting place for crew members who died in the Pearl Harbor attack of Dec. 7, 1941. Visitors can see it on a first-come, first-serve basis, and many do to see a significant piece of history and pay respects.

During a recent layover in Hawaii, I decided to spend the morning at Pearl Harbor. Little did I know how many opportunities for prayer and spiritual discovery there would be, especially as Memorial Day was approaching.

In preparation for this visit, it was interesting to think about why people visit memorials and what my reasons were for wanting to visit this one.

So before I began exploring the historical site, I decided to stop and pray. I wanted to pay a proper tribute to those who lost their lives but not be gripped by the images of loss and destruction that I expected would be on display. I also wanted to keep my understanding of eternal life in the forefront of my thought.

Through my study of Christian Science, I’ve learned that Life is a synonym for God, which comes straight from the Bible. Life is expressed in health, action, playfulness, persistence, wholeness, adventure, abundance, vitality, and energy. It includes you and me because we are made in God’s likeness, which we can know is true for everyone. We are all God’s beloved sons and daughters. We can now and forever be living these spiritual qualities that come from God and make up our identity.

I was grateful to have the opportunity to read that week’s Christian Science Bible Lesson while waiting in line, as it included some very inspiring ideas. I continued to pray as we crossed the harbor and stepped onto the floating USS Arizona Memorial, which commemorates the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941.

I was reminded of this idea from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, that had comforted me after my grandfather passed away: “Life is eternal. We should find this out, and begin the demonstration thereof” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” p. 246). This brought me peace at that time, and I’ve continued to find inspiration in it as I’ve worked to demonstrate eternal life moment by moment by overcoming lack and limitation.

In reality, no one can be lost – out of God’s care – since we are each spiritual ideas of God, divine Mind. Hatred, violence, war, and destruction are not more powerful than God, good. Therefore, the traumatic memory of war can be overcome and replaced with memories of heroism, service, and infinite blessings in holding to what we cherish about those who have served their country.

The Bible says, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). This tells me that we cannot step outside Life, God. God is not only the source of our life but is Life itself.

So, what can we do to commemorate those who have served in the military and lost their lives while not getting bogged down in the sadness of loss?

The Apostle Paul offers this comfort: “I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38, 39).

Memorial Day serves as a special time to take some moments to be grateful for the selfless service of those who have been in the armed forces and to open our hearts to Christ’s comforting angel messages that reassure us that those who have passed on are included in eternal life. We can pay tribute to them by working to see, express, and celebrate Life in our own experience today.

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