Divine Love led me out of a riot

Unexpectedly caught in the middle of a riot, a man had this inspiration: “Just love.” The idea that nothing can overpower the Love that is God brought courage and the peace of mind he needed to safely leave the area, and the disturbance soon dissipated, too.

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Years ago I was invited to entertain at a national political nominating convention. It was a very hot summer’s day, and the venue was an open courtyard in front of a public building. Next to the venue was a large, concrete flood channel, which had been transformed into a makeshift tent city occupied by hundreds of people. They had come from all over the United States to demonstrate in support of various political agendas.

As I was performing, first a few, then almost all of the demonstrators climbed up out of the dry floodway and crashed the private party. Before long, there was an intense mass of flailing bodies and screaming voices. I was in the middle of a riot. I was startled; then I was afraid. Then I prayed, “God help me.”

In the midst of turmoil, hatred, and violence, my plea for God to help was answered through this inspiration: “Just love.” This was a surprising thought, considering the severity of the circumstances, but it was so strong that it gave me courage to carry on.

I had learned through my study of Christian Science that Love is another name for God, and that nothing can overpower this Love that is God. While teaching a group of pupils in 1898, Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, posed this question: “What is the best way to bring about an instantaneous healing?”

According to Irving Tomlinson, one of the students present; “There were many answers, but when they had finished, she said that it is to love, to be love and to live love. There is nothing but Love. Love is the secret of all healing, the love which forgets self and dwells in the secret place, in the realm of the real” (Irving C. Tomlinson, “Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy, Amplified Edition,” p. 104).

Guided by the divine directive to just love, I quietly and quickly packed up my gear and placed it on a dolly. The guests had already filled the reception patio by the time the demonstrators appeared, so the space was now almost impenetrably crammed. I gently started to push the equipment. I lovingly declared aloud to those around me, “Hello! Excuse me. Thank you. Excuse me.” When there was no way forward, I paused and prayed, eyes open, smiling out of gratitude that, despite what the material senses were seeing, divine Love was here and a very present help. Then another opening would appear, and again it was, “Excuse me. Thank you,” as I moved further forward.

There was considerable shoving and swearing around me, but at no time was a hand laid upon me or any of my equipment. I was still a bit anxious, but I did not fear the crowd, nor did I judge them as anything other than my brothers and sisters in Christ. Soon I found myself in the parking lot, which was free of people. I safely stowed the equipment and departed the scene.

But prayer continued. I began to forget self and feel a greater love for all the people I had just left. I affirmed that no one can be deprived of the inspired Word, the Christ, Truth, the scientifically sound understanding of God. I knew that denial or repression of the rights given to us by God isn’t God’s will; no one can be deprived of anything that God, Love, gives.

Tomlinson’s reminiscence goes on to report additional remarks by Mrs. Eddy from that day’s teaching on the subject of Love: “Love is a Shepherd who goes forth into the darkness of the night, into the storm and wind, to find the lost sheep. This Shepherd of Love leaves the beaten path, searches the wood and marsh, pushes aside the brambles, and seeks until the lost is found; then He places it within His bosom and returns to heal and restore” (pp. 103-104).

Later that night, I saw a television news report on this incident. There was no significant damage or injuries, and the disturbance dissipated almost as quickly as it had begun.

The Bible makes clear that God supplies all needs. God, Love, is ever present, inspiring us to think and act in ways that bless not only us but our neighbors as well, injuring none. The more we know of God, the more we know of our true, spiritual identity as His children and experience the influence of the gentle Christ, guiding us – and causing us to be a blessing.

Adapted from an article published on sentinel.christianscience.com, July 9, 2020.

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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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