The Practice Room – Racial Tensions in the U.S.
On November 25, 2013, our Activities and Volunteer Coordinator, Tracy Colerider-Krugh, introduced the idea of a “Practice Club” at Broadview for our guests to pray specifically for the world, our local communities & the facility. The group meets in our Practice Room, usually every other Tuesday after lunch, and often reads an article from The Christian Science Monitor. Afterwards, they give the situation a Christian Science treatment. We keep a notebook of the notes in the Practice Room (should you ever want to stop by and peruse!).
During this month’s Practice Meeting, we read an online briefing from The Christian Science Monitor titled, “Amid ‘powder keg’ of US racial tensions, a call for empathy.”
It began, “Will tomorrow bring another terrible headline?…First it was apparently senseless police shootings of African-American men in
Louisiana and Minnesota. Then came the murder of five Dallas cops” [during an otherwise peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration]. The analogy of a powder keg came from a comment by former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. The article then reminded us: “But powder kegs do not explode by themselves. They require a spark.” The article’s tagline read, “Understanding Each Other: Obama has argued that at heart the nation is not as divided as its angriest voices suggest. Now is a moment to prove it.” We set out to do just that!
As we prayed to see that our nation is not divided and how our prayers could aid in extinguishing hateful sparks, one participant wondered how these police protect themselves in these situations. We were grateful that another Monitor article had reported on a prayer vigil held in Dallas’ Thanksgiving Square soon after the shooting in that city, which is clear evidence of the community turning to spiritual help in this crisis.
We all felt the 91st Psalm is a prayer for protection, so we decided we would start our prayers there. We read it aloud, taking turns reading the verses. One participant had it memorized!
1He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
3Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
4He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
8Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
9Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
14Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
16With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
We examined verse 7 – those thousand fallen, and we asked ourselves, “Does anyone really fall? Can anyone fall out of the safety of God’s refuge?” We prayed to know with conviction that, even when it appears there is violence and death, the truth is that Life (a synonym for God) is spiritual and eternal. We don’t need to feel afraid of the appearance of evil or destruction when we have this understanding. Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Human sense may well marvel at discord, while, to a diviner sense, harmony is the real and discord the unreal. We may well be astonished at sin, sickness, and death. We may well be perplexed at human fear; and still more astounded at hatred, which lifts its hydra head, showing its horns in the many inventions of evil. But why should we stand aghast at nothingness?” (Science and Health 563:1-7)
We cherished the power and dominion in verse 13 and saw that the beast known as “racism” has no power; God’s children, in fact, have divine authority to “trample” it.
We recalled the Daily Lift (7/12/16) by Chet Manchester titled “Radical Love” about following Jesus’ example of love and forgiveness. It told
the story of a man shot at close range by another man taking revenge on people for what he thought was an unfair ruling involving police officers in Los Angeles. Before losing consciousness, man who’d been shot called a Christian Science practitioner to pray for him. The clear, angel message she heard after receiving the call was actually to pray for the gunman, for how could she pray effectively for the victim if believing in a victimizer. Her prayers powerfully blessed both. The shooter suddenly snapped out of his rage and put down the weapon, later turning himself in. The other man he said he felt totally embraced in God’s love. He was released a few days later from the hospital, and, during a court hearing, he expressed forgiveness toward the man who had shot him.
Aware of news reports that the Dallas shooter had known mental difficulties, we felt led to address this general belief of mental instability. We turned to, and appreciated, the thoroughness of this quote from Mrs. Eddy: “The treatment of insanity is especially interesting. However obstinate the case, it yields more readily than do most diseases to the salutary action of truth, which counteracts error. The arguments to be used in curing insanity are the same as in other diseases: namely, the impossibility that matter, brain, can control or derange mind, can suffer or cause suffering; also the fact that truth and love will establish a healthy state, guide and govern mortal mind or the thought of the patient, and destroy all error, whether it is called dementia, hatred, or any other discord.” (Science and Health 414:4-14)
We concluded the meeting by reading the 91st Psalm, again. This time, we were struck by the references to home: refuge, house, and dwelling. We realized our prayers affirm everyone’s safety and their sense of belonging. We also noticed verse 15, “I will deliver him, and honour him.” Not only will God save in times of trouble and keep His child from harm, but He will also “honour him.” To honor is to highly respect and esteem. What a wonderful healing message to address the issue that seems to be at the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement – that many African-Americans feel disrespected as well as threatened.
We rested in the healing truth that God is everyone’s source of safety and dignity.