Prayer and safety in our communities
A heartfelt desire to see our neighborhoods from a holier, spiritual perspective opens our eyes to ways to help keep them safe – as a woman experienced when a prayer-inspired intuition led her to discover a loaded gun while out for a walk.
I live in Buffalo, New York, and I’ve been actively praying for my community in the wake of the mass shootings that recently took place here and elsewhere in the United States, including, most recently, at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. My prayers reach out toward friends, neighbors, parents, children, people I know and don’t know thousands of miles away. And I’m suddenly transported back to an afternoon walk – and a moment of insight that gives me hope.
It was shortly after a teenager had been shot in the city where I was living at the time. I’d decided I would take the day to pray, while walking along a trail near my home that was frequented by lots of folks, especially kids.
As I did, a passage from the book of Revelation in the Bible uplifted my thoughts. It refers to a vision of a city that lies “foursquare” – a vision of perfect peace, goodness, justice, unity. It talks about a single community where every place inside is holy, where all nations are welcome and rulers give up their power, where the gates are never shut, and where there is no night because the whole place is always full of light. The last verse says: “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27).
It wasn’t my habit to be out walking along this trail in the early afternoon. But it was as though my prayers had led me there, and as I cherished that spiritual vision, it occurred to me that the perfect city St. John saw is where we all truly live, the place every heart desires to be a part of.
This is the kingdom of heaven that Christ Jesus said was right at hand and even within everyone – not a physical location, but a wholly spiritual place, established and maintained by God, infinite Life and Love. No one is an outsider or disqualified from living there. In our true, spiritual nature as God’s children, we are forever safe and perfectly cared for in that city.
I felt a deep desire to know that this was so for everyone in our community and beyond. In that moment, that spiritual view was so arresting, so breathtaking, I just stopped walking.
To my surprise, I heard the words, “Look down.” There at my feet was an old handgun. No one else was around. I carefully picked it up and saw that it was fully loaded. I thanked God with everything in me, especially because the schools would be letting out soon. I was able to safely deposit the gun with the police, who later told me that it had been stolen and the owner hadn’t known it was missing.
It was clear to me that it wasn’t just happenstance that I’d found that gun in that spot at that moment, but that prayer had led me to exactly where I needed to be to protect, in a small way, my community.
It may seem as though we have a long way to go before we realize the full vision of the foursquare city. But this experience helped me to glimpse the possibilities for our communities when we turn to God and grasp even a little of the spiritual truth of one another and of where we live.
The book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” offers not only hope for progress, but a reason why holding close that vision of the heavenly city matters. Mary Baker Eddy, its author and the discoverer of Christian Science, writes: “The Revelator was on our plane of existence, while yet beholding what the eye cannot see, – that which is invisible to the uninspired thought....
“Accompanying this scientific consciousness was another revelation, even the declaration from heaven, supreme harmony, that God, the divine Principle of harmony, is ever with men, and they are His people.... This is Scriptural authority for concluding that such a recognition of being is, and has been, possible to men in this present state of existence, – that we can become conscious, here and now, of a cessation of death, sorrow, and pain.... When you read this, remember Jesus’ words, ‘The kingdom of God is within you.’ This spiritual consciousness is therefore a present possibility” (pp. 573-574).