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On the Australian fires

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

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"It comes at you like a runaway train. One minute you are preparing. The next you are fighting for your home. Then you are fighting for your life," wrote a longtime Australian reporter who found himself in the midst of the bush fires he was covering (quoted in the Los Angeles Times, Feb. 9). It's a message that repeats again and again in news reports: at unbelievable speeds walls of flame raced across the landscape and overwhelmed individuals who perhaps thought they were ready to battle a blaze, but found themselves overmatched.

Conditions on the ground could hardly have been worse. Years of drought have left the brush bone-dry. Temperatures last weekend reached a record 118 degrees F. in Melbourne. Many of the hardest hit areas lay in remote, thinly populated zones, and therefore didn't top the lists of overstretched fire crews. And then, sadly, the evidence that acts of arson apparently set the whole disaster in motion.

Amid the wreckage, is there any spark of hope? Maybe so. Try this, even if you live far from the blaze, even if you're on another continent. Test how long it takes for your thought to shift from your own concerns to the burned-out region. Less than a moment. Thought "travels" thousands of miles in no time at all. Prayer – a holy form of thought that reaches out to the Almighty for hope and also reaches out to a ravaged region with that God-born hope – travels that far, that fast.

That's faster than a runaway train.

That's how fast divine help can be in a time of need. And not only how fast but also how expansive. Because God-impelled thought is not only fast enough to get there first, it is sweeping enough to embrace the whole region, the whole continent, the whole globe. God, the apodictical, or provable, Principle of all, has a protecting, renewing, delivering power that reaches one at the speed of thought, and with the planet-wide scope of thought. The book of Isaiah records God as saying, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee" (43:2).

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