Order and calm in a precarious situation

A Christian Science perspective: Even in frightening or uncertain circumstances, we can feel the order and calm of infinite Love.

After graduating from university, I went to work in Gabon, a country very far from New York, where I had been brought up. At the time, Gabon had limited transportation options, yet at one point I decided to travel a long distance that required hitchhiking along rough jungle roads.

Night was falling as I waited for a ride through the last segment of the journey – several hours through the mountains. Soon a large tanker truck came along. The driver offered me a ride, and I climbed aboard.

As the truck headed into the mountains in the dark I began to wonder, Am I safe? I instinctively started to pray, turning to a psalm I especially love. Part of it reads: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.... Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night” (Psalms 91:1, 2, 5). This helped me know that I was always in the shelter of God’s care and protection, that I was safe wherever I was, including right there, right then.

Without warning, on that dark, winding mountain road, the driver suddenly pulled over and stopped the truck. For a moment, my heart was in my throat. But I reached out to God for help, and my fear was quickly calmed by the conviction that this man, like each of us, was truly God’s spiritual child, created to know and do good, and that I was safe. A deep sense of being cared for by God’s love lifted my dread.

The driver climbed out of the cab and returned a few minutes later with containers of a beverage he had stored in a stream by the side of the road to keep the drinks cold. A few hours later we reached our destination, where I hopped out, offered a tip of gratitude, and thanked him for his help. Even though I apparently hadn’t been in danger in that truck, through this experience I learned that if we’re gripped by a sense of darkness or terror, we can turn to God and feel divine order and calm. Citing the Bible’s first chapter, Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “ ‘Let there be light,’ is the perpetual demand of Truth and Love, changing chaos into order and discord into the music of the spheres” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 255).

In many situations it appears that chance has precedence over order, chaos over calm. But it is possible to push back against this picture of disarray and turn to God, the source of order and goodness, to find a deep sense of peace and safety even in precarious situations.

There is an incident recorded in the New Testament in which a mob attempted to throw Christ Jesus off a cliff, but he was able to pass through the crowd unnoticed and escape unharmed (see Luke 4:16-32). The chaos and malevolence that seemed rife around him did not touch him. As he once said, “I am not alone, because the Father is with me” (John 16:32). This calm control of God’s intelligence and love is always present with us, too.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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