The clip-clop of horse’s hooves echo in our thought as my wife and I recall our visits with a dear Amish family in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Several decades ago we established a bond of friendship based on our mutual respect for each other’s faiths.
The response of the Amish community during the Nickel Mines school shooting tragedy provides a healing model of forgiveness. Their acts of grace shocked the world, especially when the Amish quickly forgave the shooter and embraced his family in love and support. The essence of this example of forgiveness also was demonstrated in the Sandy Hook, Connecticut shooting by some of the parents.
The Boston Marathon bombings will show the resiliency of Bostonians and quick healing is available for them too. There are stories of folks running towards the explosions to help. This courage, kindness, and forgiveness being lived by the Amish and by New England folks is what life is all about. These spiritual qualities cannot be bombed, shot or stopped.
To forgive is not always easy. But it has a healing effect. Why? Because when we truly forgive, condemnation and hatred, which are elements of what the Bible refers to as the “carnal mind,” are gone. The apostle Paul wrote, “to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God.” (Rom 8:6,7)
This “carnal mind” is what caused King Herod to kill a community of male infants when he sought to kill the baby Jesus. Whatever the motive in such cases, whether it is fear or hatred or some other form of depravity, it can and must be destroyed through the all-power and grace of God’s love. And this is where divine forgiveness plays a part.
New Hampshire native, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote “The pent-up elements of mortal mind need no terrible detonation to free them. Envy, rivalry, hate, need no temporary indulgence that they be destroyed through suffering; they should be stifled from lack of air and freedom.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 356)
We must deny and destroy carnal thoughts and actions through cultivating such spiritual qualities as gentleness and generosity. The Amish offer a good example. They are devout Christians. They shun materiality for spirituality, and practice Jesus’ teaching of radical, unconditional forgiveness. Christian Science teaches us that such spiritual minded living naturally promotes peace and health.
In a promise of such peace, a beloved psalm in the Bible tells us: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. . . . Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.” (Ps. 91:1,5-7)
And in a statement entitled “What Our Leader Says,” Mrs. Eddy underlines the importance of right thinking, telling her followers:
“Beloved Christian Scientists, keep your minds so filled with Truth and Love, that sin, disease, and death cannot enter them. It is plain that nothing can be added to the mind already full. There is no door through which evil can enter, and no space for evil to fill in a mind filled with goodness. Good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort. And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited.
“The self-seeking pride of the evil thinker injures him when he would harm others. Goodness involuntarily resists evil. The evil thinker is the proud talker and doer. The right thinker abides under the shadow of the Almighty. His thoughts can only reflect peace, good will towards men, health, and holiness.” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany 210:1-17)
What about the deaths that have occurred in Boston, Sandy Hook, and Syria? In a book titled No and Yes, Eddy wrote, “Jesus’ true and conscious being never left heaven for earth. It abode forever above, even while mortals believed it was here.” (p. 36:6-8)
Just as Jesus’ spiritual identity – the Christ – was not destroyed by his crucifixion, every child’s and adult’s indestructible identity also continues right now in the kingdom of heaven. The school children and bombing victims are still living the spiritual fact that life is love. Such Life is eternal.
The Christ awakens us to the great truth of divine Life and Love and its power to comfort and heal in times of loss. The Christ also awakens us to the truth that all evil and sin are ultimately self-destroyed. What’s left is the eternal goodness of God, which is always present and can be felt now.
God’s life and love are universal and impartial. They are based on a fixed divine Principle. According to John’s Gospel, Jesus’ new commandment is to love another as Jesus loved – agape.
Agape love is a Greek word meaning pure, unselfed, spiritual love. It’s Christ, Love, that inspires us to love and forgive, because this is what God and His law does. God’s love and law can even awaken those who kill and commit suicide, bringing to them redemption and healing.
Christly love understood and lived – by everyone and with everyone – will leave no one out to stew with mental demons of guilt and mistakes, but will cast the evil out and wash all clean in God’s love and forgiveness.
Forgiveness in individual lives has been proven to bring health to those who are grieving or sick. Both medical research and Christian Science practice have shown how unconditional forgiveness heals. Linked is a recent testimony of someone who was healed of cancer through forgiveness.
Forgiveness is an expression of true Love. Christly love includes all creation. Jesus taught that it even includes the so-called evil and unjust. Agape love embraces all men, women, and children on earth. So it’s possible, even if difficult, to love all – even our enemies – and bless them.
I love Boston…I wonder whether, were our dear Master
in our New England metropolis at this hour,
he would not weep over it, as he wept over Jerusalem!
O ye tears! Not in vain did ye flow.
Those sacred drops were but enshrined for future use,
and God has now unsealed their receptacle
with His outstretched arm.
Those crystal globes made morals for mankind.
They will rise with joy, and with power to wash away,
in floods of forgiveness, every crime,
even when mistakenly committed in the name of religion.
– Mary Baker Eddy (Pulpit and Press, p. 7)