One of my favourite hymns is number 521 from the new Christian Science Hymnal Supplement. The first line says it all:
“Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me”. A couple of years ago, we found ourselves dealing with a tricky situation with our neighbours involving their overhanging trees... we were concerned that in high winds the trees might fall into our garden. Suffice to say that relations with the husband and wife became strained...when we were able to speak with them, they were rude and uncooperative, and our polite requests that the trees be lopped or made safe fell on deaf ears.
During this time I regularly companioned with the definition of GETHSEMANE in Science and Health, which reads in part: “Love, meeting no response, but still remaining love”. Our loving approach to our neighbours was certainly meeting no response, but we persisted in our prayers to see a harmonious solution to the problem.
Then one day, when my husband was working in the vegetable garden, he saw our neighbour over the fence. Without a moment’s hesitation, Martin walked over to the man and offered him some of our runner beans. He responded warmly, and from that moment on, harmony was quickly restored with these dear ones....they even offered to have the overhanging trees lopped at the earliest opportunity. In the words of Hymn 521, “Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony”.
When thinking of the conflict in Ukraine, it occurred to me recently that God doesn’t DO labels...He doesn’t label His beloved ideas as Russian, or Ukrainian...the only label that He attaches to each one of us is His own declaration: “This is my beloved son (or daughter), in whom I am well pleased”. One of our neighbours is a lovely Russian lady called Ludmilla, who often shares her garden produce with us, and is grateful for Martin’s practical help from time to time. Even as we hear about the atrocities being committed by the Russian soldiers in Ukraine, Ludmilla is a daily reminder to us that (to quote Hymn 521) “with God our creator, we are family”.