I sat on the curb on the street corner. Crying. I was a manager for political canvasses and was out in the community working side by side with my staff.
During my career, I’d canvassed broken-down trailer parks – no problem. Inner city apartments – no problem. Rural housing, politically antagonistic territory, mansions – no problem. I’d knocked on doors in almost every neighborhood in the state. Yet this neighborhood street brought me to tears. These people had just seemed mean.
After about 10 minutes I looked up from the ground where I was and started laughing through my tears. The street sign said: “Harmony Lane.”
Well, seeing that sign reminded me to open my eyes to see the good that surely was there. I had learned in Christian Science that God, divine Spirit, creates only harmony and that as His children, or spiritual expression, we can never leave His presence. But I’ve also learned that we need to “look up” and take notice of His goodness.
Instantly, my sadness and frustration left. I stood up, went back to work, and ended successfully.
That sign has been a metaphor for me more than once over the years, prompting me to rethink what harmony is and isn’t. All day long, we’re encouraged to add our two cents to that gossip at the office, complain about our family or community leaders, or give in to pain or unhappiness. It begs the question, What are we buying into: harmony or turmoil?
The Bible introduces a different paradigm with which to evaluate life. The writers from the Bible, inspired by their own experiences and their relation to God, tell us that there is a way to witness the continuous activity of harmony, aka spiritual reality, or in scriptural language, the kingdom of heaven.
According to their ancient message, one can see “the arm of the Lord” (Isaiah 53:1) expressed in harmony. Harmony is a powerful spiritual law realized through prayer. Acknowledging, praising, honoring “the arm of the Lord” in our own lives quiets discord.
The prophet Elisha could see harmony as the spiritual reality even in dire circumstances. One time, the king of Syria sent a raiding party to capture Elisha because of the help he had been giving to the king of Israel. Elisha’s servant was understandably terrified when he saw the Syrian king’s forces surrounding the city they were in.
But Elisha knew that true harmony could not be accurately measured by what’s materially visible to the eyes. He prayed and asked God to open the eyes of his servant to spiritual reality. Then the servant saw they were surrounded by the power of God, described as an army of chariots of fire there to protect them. They were safe (see II Kings 6:8-23).
There have been many times when I’ve found that holding to the idea that harmony is God’s law brings help. Even in scary situations.
I grew up in the Detroit area during the time of racial riots. In high school, I regularly studied “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science. I was searching for spiritual insights to help heal the deep divide between races. I wasn’t blind to the violence and history of racism, but I believed wholeheartedly that we could all live together in harmony.
One evening when I was in college, I was jumped. My assailants taunted me, pulled my head back by my hair, and pinned my arms behind my back. Trust me – this situation did not in any way seem harmonious!
But somehow, in those moments, I saw something different. What I’d been reading in Science and Health helped me see all individuals, including these assailants, as created to naturally love God and others. Convinced that hate, discord, animosity, violence, and racism were not included in how God made either them or me, I voiced my sense of spiritual reality to them. I turned my head, looked into the eyes of the person holding my hair, and said, “You don’t want to do this because God loves you.” The group let go of me and walked on.
Science and Health says, “If we concede the same reality to discord as to harmony, discord has as lasting a claim upon us as has harmony” (p. 186). Let’s make the right choice. Let’s redeem our perception of each “Harmony Lane” we encounter and walk on with confidence.
Adapted from an article published in the Sept. 5, 2011, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.