Divine protection in fire storm
Christian Science & the power of healing prayer
From a speech given in New York:
It was a beautiful California afternoon, that October day in 1993. Something was different though. There was a strange shade of red in the ocean which my office overlooked. I thought it was some strange fish life permeating the sea, but it wasn't, as I later discovered.
It was the red hue from the smoke filled air between the water and our house - smoke from a fire, a rapidly spreading fire which appeared so quickly that there was no time to do anything but place a call to my husband's office in Los Angeles and tell him to hurry home, and to retrieve our granddaughter from a local gymnasium where all the children in our village had been taken because each school was threatened.
I'd never been in a fire before, and few have probably been in a fire like that. Because of the prevailing wind conditions, it was traveling at 100 mph. It was outrunning the fire trucks and we had very few in our little town. Available fire equipment had already been dispatched to Malibu Beach where another fire was raging. Our limited supply of water also quickly ran out, so the area where our house was left to burn. There was simply nothing else they could do; there was no human help available, so police cars simply circled the neighborhoods with bullhorns telling people to vacate immediately. The term used for the action was that the area was "written off," and what fire personnel was available was dispatched to an area farther out to try to save some remnant of the town where they had more resources. Our daughter lived in that side of town. I heard an interesting story about that later. The fire was heading up her street and the fire chief said they had one last helicopter with some flame retardant chemicals in it - just enough for one last drop. He said that if it had not dropped directly on top of the flame, her area would be written off as well. They made a direct hit and that entire end of the town was saved, but not ours. Ours went up in smoke.
We vacated our home, leaving behind a lifetime accumulation of treasures, antiques, mementos, records, and with no time to gather belongings together, I took but one thing with me, my Christian Science practice. I ran back to my desk to gather up all of the letters I was writing to my patients, threw them into the briefcase which already contained the current periodicals and the lesson sermon. Funny isn't it. When you don't have a clue as to where you're going or how you'll put your life together the next day, you grab what you know you'll need to get you through what promises to be a very tough night - in essence, Christian Science. I knew that nothing else really mattered at that point.
So many of you have heard this story before that I'm reluctant to share all of the details with you, so I'll just hit a few highlights to give you a sense of what was happening. Our daughter, Tanya, had left her office and come to our home to retrieve her daughter, our granddaughter, and simply be there. When it was obvious the area was going under and we left, I remember that she said, "Mom, aren't you scared?" It seemed a strange question, because there was never a moment of fear. Now mind you, the flames were virtually licking the back of the car as we attempted our exit, and we were turned around twice before we could even find a road not engulfed in flames. Her concern was the gas tank, the intense heat, the surrounding flames...and getting the car through all of it. She had an extra can of gasoline in her trunk and knew it compounded the threat. She said she wouldn't stop and take it out because she didn't want to leave it in anyone else's path to endanger them. She's a very dedicated Christian Scientist, as is every member of our family I might add, and I saw throughout the emergency, the Christian Science ethic continually emerge in the family's behavior, with concern for the safety of others and an absolute trust in God's power to protect all. By the way, all were protected. Later reported as one of the miracles of that fire was that despite the loss of hundreds of homes, there was not even an injury to a person.
But back to the story. As soon as we could get to a telephone, which was no small task in a burning village with few pay phones, we called our son, Marshall, at his Christian Science Monitor office to find out if there had been any word to him about his dad, our son-in-law, the grandson, anyone. He wasn't there; it was evening on the east coast. We called his home. He wasn't there. It was Wednesday evening, and of course, he was at church. His testimony was about fire and protection because he knew through his news bureau what was going on. When he returned from church, we told him that our home had been destroyed, but that our concern was for family members. At that exact moment his dad called from his car to report that he had gotten the little 7 year old grandson and he was safe with him, that the son-in-law too was safe and in a separate car, and we all agreed to a meeting place via one phone call when all called at the same time, and through call waiting could come up with a plan. We were grateful to God that all were alive. We were grateful to know where everyone was; timing was in our favor, the need of the moment was met, but there was a very large unresolved issue burning as big as the fire.
Where had we failed? What had we done wrong? This wasn't demonstration. What would the Christian Science community think when they heard of our loss? Would they doubt the efficacy of Christian Science? Would our apparent failure result in a loss of trust on the part of others? Somehow that seemed more important than the material things we had lost. In fact, our son called and asked if we were OK with losing everything and I said, "It's fine; they're just things." He then said, "What about the pictures, the scrapbooks, the memoirs?" I said, "We don't need memoirs; we have memories. Nothing of true value burned."
We still had Christian Science. Somehow it was all that mattered. It had brought us all of our good and it was intact. It was fireproof, but would this hurt others - others who were having their own fiery trials and needed the support of victories and not the disillusionment of failures.
My husband and I couldn't sleep. Our 6 family members were all bunked down in the home of some dear Christian Science friends in a town around 40 miles away, but there was no sleeping that night so we went to an all night McDonalds with my briefcase and studied. I brought the one thing I thought we would need to get through the night. We devoted that night to praying for the Christian Science movement, that no one's faith in this great Truth be dimmed because of our loss, and at 7:00 in the morning we went back to the house.
The fire story was consuming all channels on television, and at around 7:20 in the morning an anchorwoman came on with quite a story. She said that in the midst of a disaster it was nice to be able to report a miracle, and then our house appeared on the screen, intact, perfect, complete. She said that it had appeared on the horizon that morning amidst the rubble apparently untouched. Then all channels were picking it up and then the phone began ringing. Our son was first to call as he knew where we were. He said, "Mom, did you say the house burned? It's all over television."
And so it was. Intact. Untouched. Pristine. How had it happened? I hadn't worked to protect it. I was working to protect the Christian Science movement. I thought the house was gone. My eyes had told me it was on fire. My ears had heard on the radio that if you had a view of the ocean, you had no house left. My sense of smell told me there was nothing but smoke and fire around me. The senses had all told me it was hopeless. So what had happened? How was it saved?
I knew God had saved it, but if my prayers were simply for the church and not the house. Who was praying for the house? You were. You and you and you.
We hiked back to the house because no cars were allowed in the area, so we drove to within 10 miles of it and then began the walk. We walked part way in the ocean, scrambled over rocks and climbed hills to get home and when we walked in the door, still speechless over what had happened, we heard our phone ringing.
Now a ringing phone in our house is not unusual, but you must understand that all our utilities lines were gone. As our area had been destroyed, there was no electricity, no gas and no water, but our telephone was ringing. I knew what had happened when I answered the phone.
A woman on the other end said that she was calling from Germany from the Christian Science church there. They had heard of the fire over CNN, knew that we lived there, put two and two together and had prayed through the night for the house. Not just her, our fellow Christian Scientists across Germany. She was the one who was to confirm if the house was saved. I assured her it was, thanked her, hung up and the phone rang again. This time London. Then calls from all over the world streamed in until we had to leave the house to hike back out as we couldn't stay there with no utilities. They were all calls from Christian Scientists, many of them people we didn't even know, to report that they had prayed through the night for the safety of our home.
So while we were praying for our church, our church was praying for us, our beloved church. So many thoughts flooded in. I had been raised in Christian Science in a little Kansas town where we were virtually the only Christian Scientists it seemed, and in every community we went to we were never the most crowded church. We were a small group, we Christian Scientists, I thought - until that day, and then I began to see that we were a mighty army. Those words, a mighty army, kept running through my head. When we get together and pray, when we unite, we are powerful, and it no longer mattered how big we were or how popular we were or how maligned we were. All that mattered was WHAT we were and what we could do when we united in prayer - "all one body we."
Diminishing numbers you say? What do numbers matter? Is this why Mrs. Eddy asked us not to even record numbers? When you see proof like that, what do numbers matter? My church is not a statistic, it's a power, and because of that church, we were not statistics in that fire.
There was fallout from the fire. A newspaper reporter contacted my husband the next day and asked how it had been possible that our house was saved in the midst of the fire, and he told them that it was saved by prayer. When a skeptical reporter then asked, "Haven't you ever heard of a miraculous wind change?" He said, "Who do you think controls the wind?" To which she answered, "That's where we started, isn't it?" and he replied, "I never left where we started." She then said she was going to verify this whole thing with the local fire chief, which she did. He stated that because the fire had hit our house at 100 mph and stopped at the walls, , he could not discount what he called "divine intervention." She had to print it too. A letter to the editor the following day mentioned that the story on divine intervention had involved Christian Scientists, a group the letter said, well accustomed to relying on God's help. I thought that was rather nice.
Laguna Beach, CA
Another Christian Science healing!
All healings shared are verified by people who can vouch for the testifier or who know of the healing.
and support . . .
Healing Textbook. People of all faiths have been healed by reading the healing textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. More>
Healers on Call. You may call on Christian Science Practitioners for help. They devote their full time to helping others through prayer. More>
Testimonial Meetings. You are invited to attend Wednesday evening meetings which include testimonials of healing given by the congregation. More>