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A fresh look at the unseen ash cloud

A Christian Science perspective.

Question: What is it that you cannot see, that has great power and influence, and whose plans are not subject to human manipulation?

Europe’s answer: a cloud of ash that has been belching forth from southern Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano.

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The ash has grounded air traffic over several countries over the past few weeks. It has frustrated the travel plans and domestic budgets of many and has taken a chunk out of national economies from as far afield as Kenya. It has even prevented world leaders from traveling, including President Obama, who was stopped from attending a state funeral in Poland.

Even at the height of empty skies over Britain, we could not see the ash cloud from London. Nor could we hear it, unless you count the unfamiliar – some were saying “sweet” – silence over the houses and offices of those who inhabit areas near the airports. Despite the returns to normalcy, the ongoing plans of Eyjafjallajökull and its “angry sister Katla” still seem to be beyond our current human ability to adjust to our will.

Some would add, however, that there is another power and influence that appears to be invisible to the material senses except in effect, whose plans transcend both volcanoes and human thought-taking. That is the all-power of the Almighty God.

While God’s plans are not subject to human manipulation, they are invariably blueprints for individual and collective good. They promise exactly what the ash cloud seems to deny, freedom of movement for each individual to be exactly where they need to be, when they need to be there. An approach to prayer that is timely and helpful is to look away from the evidence of good being interrupted by material circumstances and to explore the implications of a divine power, or spiritual law, that is in complete control of God's creation.

Why would this make any difference? According to the Bible, God is Spirit. God’s creation is spiritual, wholly harmonious.

The ash cloud is, literally, dust. But it is also “dust” in the way the Bible uses this term in the early chapters of Genesis, to describe a mistaken material view of all that is spiritual. That is, the ash cloud is part and parcel of a misapprehension of life as made up of, and subject to, material forces and factors, rather than to the spiritual authority and activity of God, good.

If the latter is true – as Christian Science, or the Science of spiritual being, explains it to be – then the material evidence of obstruction to activity is not just an inconvenient set of facts beyond our control that we must put up with. It is also a claim that matter holds more sway over our lives than Spirit, God, and that the finite “dust” of material factors can outweigh the infinite influence of spiritual laws.

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That can be challenged in prayer, by understanding what is divinely right and real. In offering a systematic explanation of Godcentric reality and its practical applications, Mary Baker Eddy’s foundational book on Christian Science states: “The false evidence of material sense contrasts strikingly with the testimony of Spirit” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 252). Prayer that turns to God for a spiritual perspective on human problems is like advocacy for the testimony of Spirit, in which good cannot be hindered by material circumstances and in which the “false evidence of material sense” gives way to whatever will accommodate that spiritual testimony.

Such change for the better is possible with God. Prayer helps bring our lives – individually and collectively – in line with God, with good.

Perhaps it is time for an eruption of such prayer around Europe. Then thought can take off from material resignation to limitations and move up to brighter spiritual perspectives. This will help support those planes staying in the air, where they can fulfill their role of transporting people to where they need to go.