In the news this morning, headlines shared the recent shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Thousands of prayers are being shared via internet. I quickly reviewed other posts I and others have shared and am re-sending them via facebook, blog and twitter. Here is my contribution to the wave of healing going on.
We have all had these experiences when the surprise of an abrupt ending
lands in our laps: it can be personal – death of a loved one, a divorce, a job
is cut, an injustice done, and so on, or it can be larger – a tragedy in
the community, a national threat, or devastating weather or political
How have you dealt with this prayerfully? Here is what I have found
First - healing the shock
When the abrupt change happens, there is a
likely to be a feeling of betrayal, anger and in some cases, distrust of what
can sometimes seem to be a premeditated attack. Overcoming this can be done by
prayer – a still and quiet holding to the fact that good is not helpless. Even
though this initial action may have caused one's world to be turned upside down,
we have a more active faculty of order and reason. We can stand on the fact that
we have the spiritual substance to overcome what may seem to be an abrupt or an
unjust end. The material and the personal may have taken a major hit, but we
have the spiritual ability to be calm and confident of good.
Second - determining where you stand
In the aftermath of an ending, there
may be confusion, disorientation. Sometimes there is a search to blame or shame
another person for this disruption. Other times despair would tempt us to
give in to hopelessness. Anything unethical, unjust, confusing, violent or
ignorant can be considered evil - but it is important to know that evil is never
a person, place or thing. Hatred cannot happen if we don't agree to it. So we
don't have to agree to confusion or blame. These things only have the power we
give it. It can be countered by understanding that we are spiritual beings, not
vulnerable to fluctuating conditions, but thinking, loving, and generous people
with the ability to move forward.
Third - determining where others stand
We are made to love. That is
our nature. Those who have been most impacted by this abrupt event are
still embraced in Love, God's Love. Love's very nature is pure, permanent
and active. Love continues to operate in everyone's lives. Everyone
involved are impacted and influenced by Love. Those who have generated the
abrupt ending are also spiritual. Those who have engaged in evil need the
purging power of forgiveness in order to feel their freedom. Those who
have felt the brunt of the event are fundamentally spiritual. We can pray
and affirm their spiritual grounding is firm. God's love is always present
– comforting, assuring, nurturing and calming. We can appeal to man's
higher nature - to reason, order, generosity, lovingkindness and thoughtfulness
– all reflections of God's love.
Fourth – Trust and healing
Heartbreak, sadness, anger, depression and
anxiety about what has happened and about the future are all things that will
change. None of those aspects of life are forever. They are the absence of the
somethingness of what is spiritual. Love is a force so strong, that in the
Bible, Love is synonymous with God. God is pure good "with no variableness
neither shadow of turning." Love transforms, renews and invigorates our lives.
Love is the true north and is all that we are - infinitely, forever. We can
never be separate from this love because it is what we are made of and what
guides us to fulfill our purpose, and to do good to others. This is where we
find healing and this is what we accept.
We will never be the same. Our sense of justice is strengthened, our
commitment to help others is deepened, and our alertness to others' needs is
And there is much more to be done. The world needs the poise, breadth,
confidence and vision of our prayers. It needs our seasoned experience in
fighting battles and weathering storms. It needs our grace to move forward with
compassion and our insistence that greater good come from any disturbance – no
matter how great or small.
(This is a re-write of another one of my posts about dealing with tragedy written in 2009.)
The finish line to Wausau, WI's kayak races
It was almost 30 years ago that my husband and I met and starting paddling and racing whitewater boats. It was a full and exciting time. But then it came to an end. A glorious end, as it marked our beginning as parents.
What is left is more than just a box full of trophies and ribbons. Those get put on a shelf. It is the lessons learned about overcoming fear, being bold, facing seeming limitations and dedicating oneself to excellence. Those lessons are enduring.
It is no surprise that rivers are heavy with the symbolism of the cycle of renewal. Rivers start in some high country, rains and tributaries add to it as the river continues to replenish the earth, as they make their way to the sea. The water is evaporated into the sky which falls again replenishing the rivers. And the cycle continues.
The kayakers and spectators left for the day
So what happens when something you have loved and dedicated just about your whole life to comes to an end? Just like the river, you have your own cycle of renewal. You enter a new time of beginnings. Life is about life. Obvious as that may sound, it tells us that Life (as another name for God) continues to be expressed and reflected in our lives. Good ( another name for God) is a natural, compelling and always growing component of our lives. One experience makes us stronger, better, wiser for our next experience.
As our lives have been deepened by this experience, we are ready to go on to new experiences that are more engaging, more beautiful, and more peaceful. Life demonstrates life. And we continue to grow. This hymn sings it well! (from Christian Science Hymnal, No. 182):
Make channels for the streams of Love,
Where they may broadly run;
And Love has overflowing streams,
To fill them every one.
Ironically enough, this last weekend, an international kayak race was held in my part of the country. I heard about it while visiting a friend and had time to get to the race site just as people were leaving. This race was just one of the many national and international races my husband and I did for so many years. Everything looked familiar but the faces. I walked the sidewalk that paralleled the race course with a huge smile on my face. I traced how I would have paddled through each of the gates. I felt echoes of the thrill and exhilaration of the race. Little did I know then what I know now, of how my life continued to grow and even now, I continue to grow and experience new horizon opening things. Every finish to one great lesson is the start to another.
Euphrates (river). Divine Science encompassing the universe and man; the true idea of God; a type
of the glory which is to come; metaphysics taking the place of physics; the reign of righteousness.
The atmosphere of human belief before it accepts sin, sickness, or death; a state of mortal thought,
the only error of which is limitation; finity; the opposite of infinity.
(from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy p. 586)
A lot of the lessons learned while kayaking on whitewater rivers were about facing down fear, overcoming limitations, and gaining a pure and joyful sense of dominion and grace with others equally willing to take on new challenges. Here are a couple of Euphrates type lessons about universal truth and being alert to a limiting mentality - learned when racing a national race on the Nantahala River in Tennessee.
A formal complaint was going to be made to the race course architect. Some of the best whitewater paddlers in the world were doing their trial runs on the race course set over a sretch of whitewater river, with the main team starting first. Each paddler struggled to make the seemingly impossible moves over a certain set of gates placed over one of the river's drops. People got angry. These top paddlers had a lot of clout, and it would have been an embarrassment if the course had to be changed. Then, the junior team had its turn. And when one of the first paddlers went through the whole sequence of gates - fast and clean, mouths dropped.
After it was seen that one person could do it, others found that they could as well. The race course was not changed and the race went on. Those on the main team were now going through each of the gates clean - no touches.
In looking back on this experience, it was obvious that in the first, and ironically more experienced group, there was an atmosphere of thought that accepted failure, and it was justified and played out by all those who would agree. No one could do the gate sequence right. But, the junior team was never a part of the conversation. They didn't know any better! So when their turn came to do their trial runs, nothing was stopping them. They claimed the "glory" so to speak, and taught us all a lesson to challenge limitations, and not accept them under any conditions.
What they proved for themselves, they proved for us all.
This little scenario on the river taught me to be alert to my own mental environment, to question what I am accepting in my thought. When I challenge limitations, I grow. But even more important, I learned that my victory in overcoming limitations becomes everyone's victory.
The first part of the definition of the Euphrates talks about divine Science encompassing the universe and man. How glorious it is to know that every healing we have, every insight into God's love, every inspired prayer, is an expression of divine Science - and this encompasses the universe and each of us. And that is just a tip of the iceberg "of the glory which is to come."
On page 588 of Science and Health, the river Hiddekel is described as " Divine Science understood and acknowledged."
What impact has understanding and acknowledging Divine Science (aka Christian Science) had in my life?
Understanding God, Love, as always present, I have been able to shed degrees of pride, doubt and shame. This leads me to a point of accepting or acknowledging the grand possibilities of a life based on infinite God. I fully accept and am eternally grateful to know that Love is real. It is full and satisfying and always new. This was brought out - over and over again - in my times on the river.
Rivers continue to teach us about God and our inseparable relationship to God. In light of this week's Bible Lesson on Life, I 've picked out a number of my past blog posts where the river taught me what the Pison, Gihon, Euphrates and Hiddekel can teach us all.
Gihon (river). The rights of woman acknowledged morally, civilly, and socially.
from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (p. 586)
Progress is a law of God.* And when we stand on Principle, we can expect to see our lives transform to a higher platform of human rights. It is heartening to know of the increase of awareness of and increase of actions to assure women's rights worldwide (click here), but it is also important to see this awareness spread to all human rights, everywhere.
There is a weekly Bible Lesson that I read regularly. The Bible Lesson is made up of citations from the Bible and from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. This week's lesson highlights LIFE and the lesson goes on to define and explain God as Life and God' relationship to each of us. The use of the imagery of water and rivers run throughout this lesson. Four rivers - and their spiritual interpretation - anchor the lesson: the Pison, Gihon, Euphrates and Hiddekel. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures defines each of the four rivers.
On page 593:1, The river Pison is described as:
"The love of the good and beautiful, and their immortality."
Rivers have taught me so much about God. So I was thrilled with this week's lesson. I went through almost 600 of my blog posts and picked out a number of them where the river taught me what the Pison, Gihon, Euphrates and Hiddekel can teach us all. I'll do a compilation of posts for each river, each day. Enjoy!
This blog post is one I wrote a few years ago. It speaks of one of those landmark lessons in my life that continues to teach me the power of our own purity, the cleansing action of forgiveness and the redeeming progress of Love. I included it in a remarkable collection of stories gathered together by the site time4thinkers.com. and centered on the radical acts of Jesus and how we can live them today. (Check it out here!) Here is the post:
I learned a profound and lasting lesson about forgiveness because of an
incredible friendship I had with a friend who was going through therapy due to
incest. The 70 x 7 to me speaks of a total cleansing of a sin. During our
friendship, I learned more about the power and fixity of purity and how
forgiveness clears away the fog that would try to obscure it. That lesson has
stayed with me ever since.
When I first heard of the situations my
friend had endured, I was shocked and furious. She was getting help through the
therapy and was a determined young woman. I so wanted to help her.
I remember researching what I could do legally to help her. I
got acquainted with many of the local resources dealing with women, sexuality
and abuse. I worked in the school system at the time and even produced a cable
television program on this issue that included interviews with area social
service agencies, call-ins and production staff. The issue exhausted me, angered
me, while at the same time I wanted to be strong for my friend.
I knew that all of these human footsteps were important and helpful. But what I
needed, and my friend needed, was something much more deeply
We must have talked and walked around a nearby lake
dozens of times. I prayed throughout our friendship and our discussions helped
me articulate what was becoming clearer and clearer to me about the nature of
God and our pure and loving relationship to God. I started sharing some of the
spiritual ideas that I was learning:
1. Our very being is spiritual – it is the spiritual elements in life that move us, give us our identity, cause
us to grow.
2. Our very being is pure – undefiled, untouched. This is a fixed fact and is unalterable.
3. Nobody can touch our spiritual being – our spiritual identity. Just as no one can change the idea of the numeral nine, no one can change the idea or spiritual being that is you and me.
4. Our identity is not that of a victim, of a vulnerable person who
lacks strength, intelligence, courage. These suggestions are shadows that
fluctuate and flee in light of the purity that is ours.
5. Violence, perversion, coercion — these are not our fault. It is not brought about by some
perceived lack in ourselves. It is born of ignorance and dies of ignorance. It
has no power, presence, influence or reason unless we give it to them.
6. The most loving thing we can do for one another is to not
believe in the shadows, but affirm one another’s light — one’s primitive purity.
I also relied heavily on some tried and proven foundation stones for my life.
We are safe.
We are loved.
We are pure.
The battle between good and evil is not ours, but God’s.
God is good and good is ALL-powerful, and we are His loved children, Her cherished offspring.
My friend and I exchanged many spiritual ideas for months. She remained
strong, and significant and healthy changes were made in her life.
But key to the healing and the cleansing of one’s thought was forgiveness –
the ability to see the power of Love and the powerlessness of errant actions to
take anything of substance away from what God has given us.
Later, we both went on to separate graduate schools and lost touch with one
another. But what remained is that unshakeable truth that I can now come home to
– Forgiveness clears the way so that we can see that our purity is a fixed fact
and that can never be tainted.
Kim C Korinek, CSB
banner photo (c) Micah Korinek; other photos by Gabe Korinek, Kim Korinek, Brad Crooks. Leslie Larsen (c) 2016