Archive for pray for japan
Really, it’s not right that Monday is called Labor Day, the very day when we Americans stay home from work and celebrate our day off. Rightly, it should be called Non-Labor Day. But there’s no confusion about the day after Labor Day when it’s clear that everyone returns to work. Nobody wants to celebrate IT, no thank you. But for all you Tuesday after Labor Day haters, think about it this way: you’re fortunate that you have work to go to at all, what with this economy of continuing lay-offs and unemployment.
If you don’t have a job and need one, here’s something to think about. Your faith can help. Specifically, your prayers can play a big part. Not only to keep your spirits up, but to sharpen your spiritual sense of gratitude in advance, and expectation that the right idea, the right opportunity, will appear and you’ll recognize it. It happened to me several times and to many others I know.
When I left the Northeast and moved to North Carolina, I needed a job. More, I wanted a new career, different from teaching but building on the many skills I honed when I taught English literature and writing. I did what I knew to do: I prayed. Believing in an all good God who loved me and cherished my abilities, I trusted Him to reveal next steps. I also wondered if that revered book of ancient wisdom, the Bible, would have anything to say about a job search. Incredibly, it did.
It seems that around 458 B.C.E. Ezra, a legal expert and faithful Jew during the Babylonian exile, wanted a job. He wanted to travel from his Persian home where he served king Artaxerxes to the Jewish homeland in Judea to help efforts to rebuild the temple and community life of the Jews living there. His prayer “had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel [Judea] statutes and judgments.”(Ezra 7:10) With this unselfish purpose, Ezra appealed to his employer the king for permission to take on the assignment. Artaxerxes granted it, sent a letter of introduction for Ezra to take to Jerusalem, allowed other Jewish leaders to accompany him, provided ample donations and offerings for the temple, and even urged Ezra to spend any leftover silver and gold in the ways he saw fit.
Wow, I thought. Ezra had the ideal job: a high purpose; a respectful, generous employer; congenial co-workers, and even an unlimited expense account! All this, and he even got to make a huge difference in teaching his fellow Jews about the law and the commandments of Moses, a wonderful outcome.
When I prayed to the God of Ezra, He answered me just as abundantly. After volunteering for many good causes, I found a job as director of public affairs for a large statewide non-profit where my background in teaching, writing and public speaking was valued and used. I was asked to study and share my new understanding of the laws of our state with others, and I too had fine co-workers as my teammates. My compensation was more than adequate. I felt like a modern day Ezra, and I was grateful.
Prayer puts us into a receptive frame of thought where unselfish purposes unfold, and we find our supply in opportunities to serve. My prayer today is for all to find their unique places in this world that has need of every one of us. Going back to work can be a blessing that includes all.
Did you see Louie Zamperini at the Christian Science Reading Room yesterday? Neither did I. Actually, I’m not sure Louie Zamperini, famous former Olympic runner, has ever visited a Christian Science Reading Room. But if he did, I think he’d like it. Why? Because the hero of best seller Hillenbrand’s Unbroken has been on a spiritual journey ever since his transformative experience with Billy Graham and a recommitment to God’s plan for him. Reading Rooms are places where one can continue a spiritual search for understanding and healing.
Zamperini, a former WW II POW in Japanese prison camps, suffered torture, humiliation and most likely post-traumatic stress disorder, but a Billy Graham conversion to Christ gave him restored health, a healed spirit and a new, joyous purpose. (See March 20 blog.) Zamperini must have loved his visit to the evangelist’s famous library in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Christian resources and an atmosphere of inspiration are found.
Christian Science Reading Rooms are outreach oases in every community where there is a Christian Science Church, and each is sponsored by the church for the public to come in to browse, study, purchase Biblical resources and ask questions about spiritually uplifting books such as Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. As well as welcoming spaces for prayer and reflection, Reading Rooms are lively places where one can hear a “Daily Lift,” participate in a live chat online about healing problems through prayer, and see the latest news and trends in the Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper The Christian Science Monitor. Sometimes there are Bible Study groups or discussions on troubling issues of the day, all with healing and restoration as the goal. Records of healing abound.
I’d like to meet Louie Zamperini in my Raleigh Christian Science Reading Room. I’d like to meet Louie Zamperini, period.
We went because it was the right thing to do and because it was family. Our clan was to gather at Mom and Dad’s to celebrate Mom’s progress in mobility after a fall. Four generations were represented, from the great grandparents (Mom and Dad) to the great grandchildren (twin boys.) Youngest daughter organized the picnic with pretty baskets. Middle daughter brought baked beans and a new boyfriend. Oldest daughter gave Mom a new pair of girlie shoes with soft rubber soles and cross strap for safe, stylish walking. Granddaughters, grandson and spouses added to the cheery conversation. Two new sons-in-law made a hit with Dad, swapping war stories and corny jokes. Nephew brought Mom her sister’s album of photos from the glamorous WW II era. Wool bathing suits! Smart Katherine Hepburn slacks! Newspaper write-ups of mere tea parties! He turned each page tenderly while she smiled, sighed and reminisced. Later I heard she even danced a few steps. It was all for and about Mom, but the mothering went from each one to everyone else and back.
Many years ago I was suddenly in terrible pain. It was frightening, so I called a Christian Science practitioner to pray for me. A father of four, he was accustomed to late night calls, and immediately reassured me of the presence of Love, the powerful Mother-Father God. His tender tone and loving, confidant care mothered me. I felt tucked in, was healed almost immediately and slept well. The pain never returned.
Christian Scientists are still opposed in some religious circles because they call God Mother, not only Father. Although many denominations today use the feminine name for Deity, resistance comes from more traditional, patriarchal religions which find the feminine to be secondary, even subservient. Even so most Christian denominations teach that God is Love. On that we can all agree.
Building on this concept of God as Love, we see God’s love for us, and indeed God’s creation of us as loving offspring. We can look for, and see the evidence of Mother Love caring for us and causing us to care for one another.
One of the most radical thinkers about God was Mary Baker Eddy, who reportedly was the first to name God Mother. She writes, “Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 332.)
As this Mother’s Day nears, we can practice the Love of God, the Mother-Love, more faithfully. The world aches for a mother’s touch, from Japan to Haiti to the streets of North Carolina. Our own hearts yearn for Her. How wonderful that She hears, responds, embraces. Just as you’ve always done, our little Mama; you learned it all from Her.
Photo of Japanese garden is courtesy of Alex Williams
We ask God’s blessings on the Japanese people. Over two thousand years ago, this poet prayed it best:
Psalm 91 (The Bible, King James Version)
1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
The world aches along with the Japanese people. In the face of such unprecedented catastrophe, will there ever be enough aid, enough rescuers, and enough caregivers? Superhuman endurance will be required. Compassion is called for. Clearly, nurses are needed.
Florence Nightingale was a contemporary of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science. Both lived at the turn of the century and the two were mutual admirers. Eddy particularly noted the extraordinary endurance of Florence Nightingale, who was able to overcome extreme exposure and fatigue. Eddy saw this as the result of the power of Mind over the body’s limitations. (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 385) This description might also apply to Clara Barton, another extraordinary nurse who organized the American Red Cross during these same times, serving in the Civil War in the Carolinas and the South.
Mary Baker Eddy saw the need for love to be demonstrated, not merely declared or even felt. She founded the tradition of Christian Science nurses, who are carefully trained to support those who choose spiritual care in times of great physical challenge. Christian Science nurses are required to express order, cheerfulness and strong faith, among other spiritual qualities. (Science and Health, p.395). Today the world needs us all to be nurses: Good Samaritans to bring comfort and healing to those who need it. Our prayers can petition the Father-Mother to send legions of nurses to Japan as soon as possible.
The one connection individuals may have with this beleaguered people is the memory of our own suffering sense when tragedy struck and we knew we didn’t deserve it. These harsh experiences have left at least one blessing: they’ve prepared us to reach out with compassion to others who are suffering. They’ve helped to focus our prayers so that we can find practical ways to help, and support others who are engaged in that help.
One remarkable woman who was no stranger to suffering was Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science. Poor health plagued her for years, and as a bride of a year, she was widowed suddenly while newly pregnant. Not being able to raise her son because of poverty and physical frailty, she reluctantly gave him to neighbors to care for, but when they moved out West they took her son with them and she was unable to see him until he was grown and married. Poverty, family rejection and loneliness challenged her.
Still, with the discovery of the rules of healing according to Christ Jesus’ example, this courageous woman began to glimpse the infinite love of our Father-Mother God. Her health was restored, and her quality of life improved. She brought this new understanding to others who suffered, and they were healed of serious diseases, restored to usefulness, able to raise their standard of living, and then teach and heal others of suffering. The goodness of God, seemingly obscure and even absent in tragedy, was becoming clearer to these early Christian Scientists. They were seeing reality as God sees it.
In her seminal book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures Mary Baker Eddy gives us the Biblical basis for compassionate action and practical help for mankind. Referring to Scriptural promises, she writes, “Take heart, dear sufferer, for this reality of being will surely appear sometime and in some way. There will be no more pain, and all tears will be wiped away…Remember Jesus’ words, ‘The kingdom of God is within you.’ This spiritual consciousness is therefore a present possibility.” (p. 573)
How are you praying for Sendai and Japan? What are you led to do about it? Share your answer, please.