Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'A City Not Forsaken' ; A Christian Science Perspective on Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'A City Not Forsaken' ; A Christian Science Perspective on Daily Life

Article excerpt

Most of my life I've been a New Yorker, so the topic of crime has been part of the landscape for some time. I lived in the city over a period when violent crime noticeably decreased, and concurrently the quality of life dramatically increased. Now that I live in Boston where violent crime is up, I'm glad to know it's possible to change the current, having actually felt the effects of such a change.

Looking back over the decades of living in the Big Apple, I observed a gradual but steady change in the mental atmosphere of the city.

Little by little, the general attitude altered from "we're stuck here and miserable about it" to "we're here because we want to be, and although we know city life has challenges, it has great benefits, and those are what keep us here." Once this remarkable shift began, it took over like an unstoppable wave.

So, how does such a shift take place? Surely there are many factors, but I believe that one factor heads the list. Prayer.

Problems such as crime may seem too big or entrenched to respond to prayer. Yet, that is not so. Most people at some point have walked into a room and perceived a mental climate, good or bad. Someone entering that room with a few words, a facial expression, or even a particular thought, can effect a change in the atmosphere. Surely these sorts of mental atmospheres are not confined to rooms, but are also felt across a city, a country, or even around the world.

During the not-so-secure 1970s in New York, I prayed daily to God for the safety of all members of the community. Many people were praying. In fact, I had a memorable conversation with a stranger who told me that he got up very early each day before any other thoughts could interfere, in order to take in the pure stillness. It would establish peace in his heart - enough to last the whole day. From this reservoir, he would spread peace citywide throughout his day. …

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