A year of healing. That's what I want more than anything in the months ahead. I mean healing in all its forms - but especially the healing of conflict and divisiveness.
The moment this thought struck me, I was surprised to find how deep this desire is. 2004 has been a year of much evidence of extremism, of violent passions and disagreements, of war, genocide, and terrorism. In many countries partisanship has turned into hatred.
In this context, even the idea of a year of healing feels like a mother's comforting hug.
A true year of healing won't come by proclamation, though. No one can declare it. Wanting it isn't going to be enough. The only way to fulfill this desire is to commit ourselves to being healers. The ranks of committed healers are a bit thin. But if you or I decide to leave the ranks of those who constantly judge one another, and stop pushing our own opinions; if we end any further use of human will; and, most significantly, if we decide to forgive the people we think have harmed, abused, or deceived us, we will be taking steps toward a year of healing.
Doing this is key. The Bible shows the wisdom of these initial steps: "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing." If we do this, God's promise is "I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty" (II Cor. 6:17, 18).
Focusing on healing, we discover that many disagreements are based on misunderstandings or ignorance. At times, being aware of all the facts, we may know we are right. But knowing this isn't necessarily healing. Instead, it can produce self-righteousness or spark anger. there can be a self- satisfaction in "being right." Of course, being right is better than being wrong. But when the focus is on healing conflict and misunderstanding, I'm learning that being right needs to be coupled with a determination to heal - to remove - whatever it is that is causing conflict.
Healing isn't about proving your rightness. It's about destroying the mental element, the thought, that creates anger and hatred. It's recognizing that everyone is actually animated by the divine Mind - and by nothing else. This prayer revives the spiritual brotherhood and sisterhood that unite people. It destroys the roots of conflict.
When people devote themselves to healing, they learn that it's important to start with the basic spiritual fact that God is present and in control now. This helps us understand an essential spiritual idea. Every man, woman, and child, as the creation of God, is innately good, attracted to good, animated by good, loves good, is able to do what is good. Even in the middle of conflict, a healer allows the divine Mind to convince him or her that there are no haves and have-nots. Everyone can respond to good.
Mary Baker Eddy, who spent years writing and teaching others how to heal, explained this key point: "In obedience to the divine nature, man's individuality reflects the divine law and order of being.... This divine Principle and idea are demonstrated, in healing, to be God and the real man.
"...I will love, if another hates. I will gain a balance on the side of good, my true being. This alone gives me the forces of God wherewith to overcome all error" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," page 104).
Anyone who wants 2005 to be a year of healing can echo these sentiments. "I will love, if another hates, I will gain a balance on the side of good." Doing this can bring the same peace to human life that Jesus initiated when he healed a seriously deranged and violent man and sent him home calm and sane.
I believe we would all like to see more calmness and sanity today. A year of healing is something worth working at.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee
with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.