A Christian Science perspective.
The gang of teenagers who beat me up that early spring night wanted my purse. But the intensity of the kicking and the fierceness of the blows with the metal object spoke the desperation of their lives. I don’t know how they felt about women, but I experienced the authority of true womanhood as I lay on the sidewalk.
All I could pray was “Thank you, God, for being with me. Thank you for being with the boys.” Whatever the mental darkness, stupidity, or lack of mental independence that spurred the attack was not part of their divine nature as children of God. Even though we had experienced a brutal exchange, I knew that our real relationship was in God’s family, and I prayed that they could feel that blessing and transformation.
After about half an hour I was able to roll over, and what I saw took my breath away. In this part of town there were not many of those orange lights that block out the sky views. And in the darkness, spread out before me was a magnificent display of galaxy upon galaxies of stars. It was clear to me that just as the order of the solar system had not been disrupted, so God’s loving government of creation had not been interrupted by the attack. I felt the overwhelming peace of being loved, held, cherished by God.
Soon a man came along, eager to help me. He wanted to call an ambulance, but he respected my intuition that with his help I could get back to my apartment a few blocks away. He put his arms under my armpits and bore most of my weight home. All the time, he was saying, “Good girl. You’re doing it. It’s not far.” I felt the heart of this stranger confirming God’s love for me.
As I promised him at my door, I did call the police, and felt the tenderness of these officers wanting to help but not wanting to push me too hard. They were concerned about my injuries, but I was sure healing was taking place. I called a friend to come be with me, and he stayed until the sense of shock was over.
What my study of Christian Science does most powerfully for me is defend my right to think beyond my immediate circumstance. It has taught me that God’s love and government of creation is the reality base for constructive living and thinking. When I moved into that apartment, I had committed to prayer for my city. Instead of being a victim of this crime, I knew I needed to redouble my efforts and understand how God, the great divine Mind, was waking up the boys to a positive way to meet their needs.
In the morning, my ear that had been torn was healed. The bruising on my body cleared in a couple of days. The shortness of breath from a damaged rib was gone within the week. But the real evidence of healing was when a year later, I was able to work a night security job without fear and teach a Sunday school class of inner-city teenage boys who trusted me enough to let me become involved with their families.
Recalling this experience in light of the attacks on the students near Santa Barbara, Calif., last month, and the hatred of women that has been exposed from it, I find myself wanting to defend the authority of womanhood, not just for the victims, but for the perpetrators of brutality. I think of the tenderness of the man who helped me get home that night, the gentleness of the officers, the affection of my friend, and my freedom to pray for the boys. The qualities of womanhood prevailed that night, despite the cruelty. That tangible sense of God’s presence was expressed in the stars, the healing of my body, and the opportunities to help without fear. They all tell me about the divine power behind womanhood.
Christian Science teaches that God is Mother and the real source of womanhood, not just in women, but in men, too. The textbook of Christian Science, written by the woman who founded the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, includes this statement: “Love, the divine Principle, is the Father and Mother of the universe, including man” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 256).
Thinking of Mother-God as the source of true womanhood aligns womanhood with omnipotence. We see it in the strength of mothers who can see through the misbehavior of a child, the intuition that brings forth a creative solution to a difficult human situation, the tenderness that comforts a heartache – these are the feminine qualities that uphold and forward civilization.
When I think of all the women who have suffered violence, many of whom have recently recounted incidents on Twitter, my prayer is based on the fact that God was not and is not absent from their lives. And even though the unconscionable acts denied any protecting power, there will be a way for both victim and perpetrator to reclaim the authority of their inherent God-expressed feminine qualities and triumph over the effects of an animal nature.