The wall was a structure of concrete and barbed wire, with watchtowers and minefields that would divide two parts of Germany. In 1945 that was how Winston Churchill described to President Truman what, in years to come, would be a symbol of the Iron Curtain, of the division of Europe and the development of the cold war, which brought humanity close to a third world war.
More than the material used to build the Berlin Wall, it was the motive underlying it that described its intent: to deny people freedom and basic human rights.
Many people around the world prayed humbly and persistently that this unnatural condition come to an end. And it did. On Nov. 9, the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, people are celebrating.
I still remember what people said 20 years ago: This is a miracle. The unimaginable – the end of the oppressive regime – is now a reality. For me, one sentence from the first page of the preface to "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy was a beacon: "The time for thinkers has come." To me that meant that the time had come to expect what we didn't think was possible.
Progress is the visible result of God's law of good, which Christian Science explains can be relied on to govern every human situation. This law is caring and thoughtful. It covers every detail with wisdom and love. It heals. Science and Health also states, "Progress takes off human shackles" (p. 256).
Sometimes you see what has been achieved not through big, stunning statements, but by little, dear questions. The daughter of a friend and colleague, a 20-something who was born in former East Germany, asked me the other day: "Michael, Mom told me that you prayed for me. Why did you do that?"
My prayer was motivated by the love for many people I knew in the East bloc, but even more it was the love for freedom and righteousness. So, my prayers included two aspects: to better understand the spiritual facts, the fundamental idea that God has given His creation freedom from fear, limitations, oppression; and also to deny any power of human will to control the thinking of another individual. This approach stood in sharp contrast to the doctrine of a regime that tried to control every aspect of a citizen's life.
My young friend was beginning to understand how blessed she was to live in a society that grants her the freedom of worship and speech – where a company boss doesn't determine whether or not you are granted a vacation place at the Baltic Sea, and where you won't be in danger if you disagree with the policies of your government.
We talked about the changes that had taken place, and I told her how grateful we can be that she doesn't need to think in terms of past limitations. There are still many challenges, and there will be more. But we have a brilliant example of how walls – mental, concrete, dangerous, frightening – can and will fall through prayer.
She hugged me and said, "Thank you for your prayers." And it was evident that she was expressing the gratitude of her generation to all thinkers who had never given up.
For a German translation of this article, see The Herald of Christian Science.