Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Day in the Neighborhood ; A Christian Science Perspective on Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Day in the Neighborhood ; A Christian Science Perspective on Daily Life

Article excerpt

I was walking the dog the other night, and it occurred to me to bless the neighborhood. It was such an arresting thought that I stopped in my tracks.

Could I bless the whole neighborhood, I wondered, in a kind of general benevolence? Why not?

We live modestly, in a community of mostly upwardly mobile people of all ethnicities, many of them first-time homeowners who grew up in worse areas and are making better lives for themselves and their children.

There are some rough edges, such as "Pay your rent!" signs plastered on a neighbor's front door, very public domestic quarrels, or even drug transactions in the dark of night. It has certainly occurred to us to protect ourselves and our children through various means including prayer, but not to bless the whole place.

Prayer in this context means, to me, a need to recognize that only God's goodness can really be going on, and to see that goodness as so inclusive as to drive out evil.

I started my prayer by taking a couple of minutes simply to thank God that we lived there, that there was enough green space to satisfy the dog, that there was a playground and a basketball court for the local children, and that we weren't too far from the commuter train into Washington, D.C.

As I thought more about it, I realized that God, who is ever present, was surely in this place, too. The all-presence of God means that all of us are wrapped up in God's love. It was right, then, for the families in our neighborhood to enjoy safety, beauty, cooperation, shelter, and happiness - all of them God-derived qualities of life. Seeing God as the source of these good neighborly qualities must inevitably bless all of us.

I thought of the biblical story of Jacob, wrestling at the place he later called Peniel. (The whole story is in Genesis, chapter 32.)

Jacob was returning home after an absence of several years, having fled after cheating his brother of his inheritance. …

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