As we near Veterans Day in the United States, I feel profoundly grateful to every armed services branch, and those who serve in them, for defending the lives and homeland of American citizens. But I’m also prompted to deeply consider how I can be of greater service in defending our vets.
Over the years, I have found that prayer is the greatest blessing I can offer, so I find myself praying for our service members in line with what I’ve learned through Christian Science. Let me give you an example of its blessing.
Many years ago, my dad was in a Veterans Affairs Hospital for a rather lengthy period. During his hospital stay, one of his roommates – a self-described military assassin during the Vietnam conflict – hadn’t been able to shake the perception of himself as a killer. When I’d visit my father, this other man would pour out every gory detail of some of his “adventures” and would talk about how that brutality carried forward in his civilian life. Not surprisingly, no one came to visit him.
After first meeting him, I found myself deeply disturbed for several days. I knew that I had to pray to uplift my own thought about this man and every vet who has ever experienced the cruelties of war. In my prayer, I turned away from thinking of him as a hired killer and instead sought very earnestly to discern the real origin and nature of man, as outlined in the first chapter of Genesis – that of a pure and innocent child of God, divine Love. That corrupted sense of man, however tangible and real it appears to be, isn’t how God made man – man is made in Love’s own image, spiritual and good. So it was incumbent upon me to defend the purer view, to uphold in my own thought the truth of everyone’s being. Christ Jesus provides a needed example. He saw clearly this higher sense of manhood and womanhood, and this view healed! In her textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy observes that it was “Christ’s purpose to reconcile man to God” (p. 19). Jesus refused to see others as the world did, but saw God as divine Love, sheltering every individual under His wing. This is precisely how I prayed with my whole heart. Rather than starting with human history, I started with the truth of God’s loving creation, which allowed me to see his true self.
My father was to remain in the hospital during Christmastime, so my family and I took a holiday meal to both men. When we came in, we could see a distinct softening of the roommate’s hardness and a greater lightness in his expression. He conveyed great appreciation by showering us with hand-crocheted blankets and potholders made by hospital volunteers! Our deepest thanks to vets can be borne out in prayer that cherishes their true spiritual selfhood. In that way, we’ll rise to our obligation to defend them.