Building and rebuilding communities with love
Live audio chat with Cindy Neely
February 21, 2006
The transcribed text has been edited for clarity. Scroll to the end of the page for audio links.
Starting with the Biblical examples of Nehemiah, who rebuilt the wall around Jerusalem, and the selfless Good Samaritan, Cindy Neely, a practitioner and teacher of Christian Science, answers questions from site visitors and explores ways to bring healing and restoration to communities struggling with issues of conflict, division, and frustration.
When we see the spiritual equality of all people, Cindy says, and recognize everyone’s true spiritual identity, we can restore elements of harmony and perfection to our neighborhoods, enriching our own lives as well as building and strengthening those around us.
Through boundless love, charity, compassion, honor, and respect—and realizing the effectiveness of the power of prayer—we can create a community that unites people and helps us all feel safe and secure.
spirituality.com host: Today, we’ll be talking with Cindy Neely, a practitioner and teacher of Christian Science in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States, and our topic is “Building and rebuilding communities with love.” Even today, areas from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi to New Orleans, Louisiana, are struggling to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. And other parts of the world, such as those affected by the mudslide in the Philippines, are also dealing with disaster.
And then there are events that affect our individual communities—our families, churches, work, and schools. That’s a lot of territory to cover, but Cindy is willing to go there with us.
Recently, she spent a year as President of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, here in Boston, where she worked with community groups to provide human and spiritual solutions to the city’s social and economic problems. She has traveled in the United States, Canada, Japan, Jerusalem, England, and the Caribbean, speaking on women’s issues—family, defeating racism, and overcoming addiction. So she’s got a lot to offer us.
Cindy, do you have a few comments you’d like to make to get us started?
Cindy Neely: Yes, I do, and I would like to start out by saying I’m so happy to be on the show today. As I was thinking about the topic, “Building and rebuilding communities with love,” what came to my thought most was that everybody wants to feel loved. And when someone can feel God’s love and His embrace, they feel safe, and they feel secure.
And as I was thinking about that, I went back to the Bible, to two stories, to get inspiration. The first one was about Nehemiah building the wall, and then story of the good Samaritan.
So I’d like to start out with Nehemiah building the wall. Nehemiah came to Jerusalem, and he saw the city and its wall in ruins. He went out at night, and went around the wall. And he had a vision that the wall could be rebuilt.
A few men went with him when he went around the wall, and when the people living in Jerusalem saw and heard his vision, they said, the Bible tells us, “Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.” He had a vision, and then from that vision, he had a plan. So he rallied all these men together, and they began to rebuild the wall, brick by brick.
As I think about brick by brick, I think about quality by quality: determination, moral courage, spiritual strength, persistence, commitment, unselfed love, and service. And there wasn’t any mud of criticism between each brick; it was just that seamless web of love that was building and rebuilding that wall.
Now that’s not to say that Nehemiah didn’t have opposition, because he did. But because of his vision, he saw the opposition and overcame it. And what he did was, every man that worked had a tool in one hand, and had a weapon in the other. And the wall was finished within 52 days. Well, that was a very short time for that to be accomplished.
And as I think about that story, I think about today. And I think if Nehemiah were here today, what would he say about New Orleans? What would he say about Mississippi? What would his vision be, what would his plan be, to rebuild the city, or to repair the levees? What would he say to FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency]? What would he say to Homeland Security? What would he say to the mayor, or to the governor of Louisiana? He would have a plan, because he had a solution. And that’s really the hope that everybody is looking for, that there’s a solution and there’s a plan that can be carried out that would meet everybody’s need.
Then I think about Nehemiah, if he were in Boston—what would he say about the youth violence? What would he say to the parents that are struggling and are in anguish about losing their children? He would also have a solution. What about those that are homeless? Again, he would have a solution.
And as I thought about Nehemiah, I thought, it’s the vision. Behind every spiritual vision, the outcome is going to be a human solution to bring restoration right where despair and devastation appear to be. And to be able to see that, we need to have a vision.
So wherever you find yourself, or whatever circumstances you find yourself in—if you’re in Louisiana right now—there’s a solution that will meet your need. And God will communicate to those who need that intelligence or that wisdom or that understanding; God will communicate to them the plan. And God will also communicate to you.
Then, the second story is about the good Samaritan. Because after the plan—after you have your home back and you have your job, and the city is restored—there’s a comfort issue. Many individuals have lost loved ones, pets, employment, and so they need to be comforted.
And as I went to the good Samaritan, I came away with such enlightenment—again, a vision, but also a comfort that binds up the broken-hearted, that restores a true identity to its original state of being.
So I’d like to talk a little bit about the good Samaritan. There was a certain man that went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, and they stripped him of his raiment, and left him half dead.
And the story goes on that a priest came by, and when he saw him, he crossed on the other side of the street. And then a Levite, he avoided the injured man also.
But then the Samaritan “came where he was.” And isn’t that really the key? To come where the brokenhearted are. And he met that man. His heart went out to him, and he had compassion on him. He was binding up his wounds. He made him comfortable. Isn’t that what everybody that is a victim of Katrina—or a victim of violence or homelessness or crime or whatever it is—wants? They want to be made comfortable. They want to feel loved. They want to feel peace and heavenly rest.
So the Samaritan dressed his wounds, “pouring in oil and wine.” I thought about that: boundless love, compassion, mercy, charity, gentleness, unselfed service. The good Samaritan was so inspired by doing good. And that sense of doing good could just lift up thought, lift up that broken spirit, to restore it to its normal understanding of its true identity.
Then he took the man “and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” And then he gave the innkeeper two pence. When I was researching two pence, it said, two silver coins, and that two silver coins was the equivalent of two days’ wages. Well, you know, in that day and age, two days’ wages—that was a lot of money. So that was generosity. He was lavishly pouring love and harmony and joy into this man’s experience, into his consciousness. And then he told the innkeeper to take care of him, and he said when he returned, he would reimburse him for anything that he had spent.
Both Nehemiah and the good Samaritan are needed in spiritual rebuilding, restoring to its original perfection, restoring to its original identity. And so that’s what I hope we’ll be talking about today—how to bring this restoring element into our lives, regardless if it’s in the workplace, if it’s in Louisiana, or if it’s in the community in Texas that you’re struggling with, there’s a solution, because there’s spiritual vision.
spirituality.com host: We’ve got a lot of questions. I think your comments will help those people while they’re waiting for us to get to their specific question.
To start, Evan, from Kansas City, says, “I’ve just moved to a new city, and I miss the close-knit circle of friends and neighbors I used to have. What’s the best way for me to start building a new community for myself? And is that a selfish way of thinking?”
Cindy: Evan, your desire to reach out, it may seem selfish to you, but in the end it will become unselfish, because as you reach out, you’re going to go to different organizations. Maybe you have a church affiliation. Maybe you’ll find friends at church or in your community or in your neighborhood. But as you reach out to express that love, you’re going to find a like-mindedness. You’re going to find a spiritual attraction where people start to come into your experience that have the same likes that you have, and that you both can express spiritual qualities to each other. And it will be an enrichment, a spiritual growth to you, along with lots of fun.
spirituality.com host: That’s great. Nadine in Tucson, Arizona, is asking, “Should we pray for defined communities? Is it right to single out particular groups for prayer? Shouldn’t we pray for the whole world?” Perhaps Nadine is thinking of communities within communities when she talks about particular groups.
Cindy: I think that when our motive is just to reach out and see humanity, we find ourselves connected to those we can help, and they can help us. And we go past the barriers of cultures and find ourselves in settings that are comfortable to us and to them. We also, as we reach out, are attracted to other cultures and diversity that’s going to bless and enrich our lives.
I remember coming to Boston, and just reaching out to organizations and to clergy, and meeting new people. I was enriched by that. I was enriched by getting to know people of other religions and other organizations that I wasn’t used to associating with. So that was a blessing for me.
spirituality.com host: Harriet is writing from New Orleans, and she says, “There is such a feeling of uncertainty about what is coming next here in New Orleans, whether people are facing the question of if they should return to this region, or if they should rebuild, or will they be able to get insurance. And what will happen this summer as far as weather is concerned? And will the levees be fixed? Can you speak about how to handle that feeling of uncertainty?” I think that’s a real good question.
Cindy: I’d like to go back to Nehemiah, because there’s a statement in Science and Health, page 199, and it says, “The devotion of thought to an honest achievement makes the achievement possible.” That sense of devotion of thought—Nehemiah had that devotion of thought, and he held on to that devotion of thought until it was evidenced humanly.
Harriet has already made a list of the things that she feels uncertain about. But there’s a solution for each one. And to be able to see that God will communicate to her what is just right for her, what is right for New Orleans. It will be revealed. There’s nothing hidden “that shall not be revealed.”
And God is a loving God. So if He’s included in the process of this spiritual rebuilding, He’s certainly going to impart to you, Harriet, what you need that’s going to give you comfort. He’s going to meet you where you are to allow that list to diminish until it’s no longer a list of questions and uncertainties, but it’s a list of accomplishments and achievements. And that you do see the solution. And your devotion of thought to that honest achievement is going to help everybody in New Orleans.
spirituality.com host: I wonder if we could just briefly go into the whole question of government bureaucracy and the uncertainty that seems to be tied in with that. How would you pray about government? Like when you were in Boston, surely there were some issues with city government and so forth, and seemingly the impossibility of getting answers. And I’m wondering if the folks in New Orleans maybe are struggling with that, too, at a state and city level.
Cindy: I’ve listened to the news, I’ve heard the bickering—there’s not any other way to put it—and the confusion, and the blaming. I think we need to go up higher. We need to let go of that human view of how it should work out, or how it didn’t work out, or what’s next. We need to go up. If we’re praying for solutions, then only the divine solution is going to meet the human need.
And so if we’re going up and we’re looking for spiritual solutions, then those ideas, those angel messages, that we need are going to come to the forefront of thought—for those in government, and also for those individuals right there in New Orleans. It’s going up higher and letting go of the limitations, the restrictions, and all the clamor and commotion and the unhappiness about it that are what really need healing.
There’s a statement in Science and Health where Mrs. Eddy said, “Spirit, God, is heard when the senses are silent.” And to be able to quiet all that unrest, all that fear and that uncertainty—when that fear has been destroyed, right in the midst of that fear is the solution that’s developing right now. Right now there are answers for every question that everybody has. There’s an answer. And those answers are being imparted to those in government. As we pray about that, then we’re going to see that more clearly evidenced, and we will begin to trust God more to bring it about. In the Bible it says, “And the government shall be upon his shoulder.” So we’re going up to a higher level of government.
spirituality.com host: That’s wonderful. And I just wanted to follow up one last time, and that’s with the idea of Nehemiah, as I’m thinking about him in light of what you’ve said. Basically, he didn’t let anything hinder his spiritual vision of God’s ultimately being in control. Even when enemies came against them, he still held to that vision. And it sounds like that’s what you’re saying.
Cindy: Yes. He was alert. He was aware of what was out there. But he didn’t allow that to have an impact on his vision. He didn’t allow that to make him come down. I’ve always thought of Nehemiah as the one that refused to “come down” in thought to the human level.
Right now, things may seem on a very human level. But if we go up and do that spiritual building, that’s going to allow the manifestation, or the evidence, to present itself in a natural way for everyone there.
spirituality.com host: That’s very helpful. Now we have a number of questions. Two are on similar subjects. Here’s the first one. It’s from Katherine in Houston, Texas. And she says, “What about making our communities more welcoming to people who may be considered outsiders? Do you have any practical advice?”
Cindy: Love. Love is really the key. I was in Houston in September, helping out at the George Brown Convention Center with the Katrina victims, and they felt displaced. They felt that they weren’t loved or welcomed. And to just bring in that Christly love was so needed. Everybody wants to feel they’re special. Everybody wants to feel that they have something to contribute. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Houston or in California, that same need is still present. Everybody is feeling the same way. And so to be able to reach out beyond yourself—in your communities or whatever—to be able to see someone else’s need and to meet that need is important.
There’s a statement, again in Science and Health, where Mrs. Eddy said, “The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood …; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother’s need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another’s good.” And wouldn’t you say that’s what the good Samaritan did? He went beyond himself. That man wasn’t in his community. But the Samaritan saw a need, and he reached out, and he included him in his community.
I have had many experiences where I’ve been in new communities, and I have felt out of sync, didn’t feel like I belonged. But I was the one that grew. And I was the one that went beyond the barriers. And I was the one that began to become more comfortable in any setting, because I realized that Love was always there.
I can remember moving into Chinatown, and there were 12 townhouses—six on each side. I was the only one that wasn’t Chinese. So you can imagine how I felt. But I didn’t feel like I was out of sync. I felt like we were all embraced in Love. I had already had experiences before where I was a minority, and I had overcome that. So I felt like I was leaning on past experiences.
To make a long story short, they started talking to me. I remember this woman coming over and ringing my doorbell. I had a flower garden, and she said, “Will you help me with my flower garden?” And I went out and helped her dig up her yard. We went out to the store. When I was lecturing in England, that same woman did my banking for me. So, I mean, it made me feel more comfortable.
Diversity is a good thing, because then it doesn’t matter what setting we find ourselves in—we feel comfortable, because we know that Love is there. And it’s that love that we’re expressing to each other that makes us feel comfortable. We don’t feel separate. We don’t feel isolated. We don’t feel like we don’t belong, because it’s our understanding that Love is within us, and Love is within them, and Love is within that whole community.
spirituality.com host: That’s very helpful. And it starts to answer the second question, which is from Steven in Atlanta. He says, “I find it easier to fit into some communities than others, because there’s still quite a bit of prejudice and intolerance, even in otherwise sophisticated and intelligent parts of the country. How can I help build community when some of my neighbors do not want to include me?”
Cindy: Well, you persist like Nehemiah. You have the vision, and you build brick by brick—those qualities of mercy, compassion, understanding, forgiveness. And you just keep seeing that that’s what’s there. And that building is going on in your thinking.
I moved into an all-white neighborhood. They didn’t want me there. I was a single parent. The family to the right of me had a son, and she didn’t want her son to play with my son. He’d climb the fence every day. When the grandfather or mother saw that, out the back door they’d come. And they’d call Michael back over the fence. Can you imagine how I felt? Pretty painful.
Did I give in? Did I sink? Did I come down from building the wall? No, I didn’t. I kept knowing that Love was present. And I kept knowing that I was loved. And I went past race. I had to go past it to see, How did God create us? Was I going to view my life as material creation, as multicultural environment? Or was I going to see creation spiritually? And as I saw creation spiritually, I began to see that we all sit together, that we all honor and respect each other.
I think about the fall, and the trees and the leaves changing, I don’t hear the oak saying to the maple, “You’re too bright. Move over.” We just come together, and we begin to honor and respect and love each other. That’s the key.
The good Samaritan saw the need to go beyond himself. He saw the need to extend boundless love to this man, and to build up his broken spirit to completion, to wholeness, to be intact. So Steve in Atlanta, what you have to offer your community, they’re just waiting. They’re hungering for you to reach out and love them, and just knock those barriers down, those ruins, and build up true brotherhood right there.
spirituality.com host: Anne in Florida is asking something similar. She says, “Communities seem fragmented. They want and deserve their own identity. But they identify more with themselves than with their town or city. How can we help bridge cultural, language, ethnic, and other dividers?”
Cindy: It’s all the same thing. It’s all what I’ve been saying. Either we’re going to view ourselves from a material standpoint, with our flaws and our deficiencies and inadequacies, or we’re going to go up to the divine. And when we go up to the divine, that eliminates the fragments. The fragmentary element disappears in God’s wholeness of love.
“Blessed are the peacemakers.” As we become peacemakers in our own thought as to whatever the division is, then the barriers just collapse. They stopped calling Michael back over the fence. And he could stay, and he could play. And I remember the time when his mother invited us over for dinner. Can you imagine how I felt? I was like, “Hip, hip, hooray! The healing is intact.” But I worked at it, and I worked at it. And that understanding is within me now. It’s the foundation upon which I lean.
There’s a poem by Edwin Markham entitled, “Outwitted.” And it says:
He drew a circle that shut me out—
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!
So we open our hearts like the good Samaritan, and we let that love just pour into that community—the oil and the wine. And before we know it, it’s a different community.
spirituality.com host: I think that idea’s going to be helpful for the folks who’ve sent in this next question. They’re saying, “We’re from Rialto, California, First Church Sunday School. Last year there was a race riot at our school. The black kids and the Chicano kids started fighting. The school was closed down for a week after that, and the tension was intense all year.
“This year there has been some fighting, but no riots or school closures. How can we heal the situation?” I think they’re referring to a public school, rather than to the Sunday School. But they’re still saying, “How can we bring healing to the situation?”
Cindy: There’s a statement in Science and Health, where it says, “Clad in the panoply of Love, human hatred cannot reach you.” A panoply is like a covering, or I call it an umbrella. I envision it as an umbrella, and we’re all under that umbrella of Love.
No one wants to react in conflict. No one wants hatred or envy directed toward them, really. And so, Love is the most healing element in rebuilding that whole situation. And to pour in the oil and the wine on that situation. So for that church to daily pray about that situation until there aren’t any more reports that there’s something brewing, because it’s just eliminated, because Love has replaced it, that’s the key. My experience with that family to the right of me—I had to persist. I had to keep going. And I had to turn straight forward and not allow any sense of reaction or retaliation to come into my thought, but to realize that Love was going to win. And that’s the key.
We have these situations in our world. We turn the nightly news on, and we’re hearing about it all over the place. So in California, that isn’t any different than what we’re hearing in the Middle East.
But as we pray about these situations, and go up like Nehemiah, and refuse to come down until the city is mentally rebuilt in thought, then that has to have a bearing in the human realm, in that community, with those kids, in that school. I would pray daily for that school until I didn’t hear any more reports.
spirituality.com host: That’s a very good answer. This is a question from Alison in Shreveport, Louisiana. She was at a lecture you gave in Shreveport and really enjoyed it. And she says, “My husband and I are in the process of trying to buy a house. However, the sellers are giving us a hard time about fixing certain problems, and it looks like we might have to pull out of our contract. We really love the house and want everything to work out. How can I use the topic for the chat to help with our dilemma?”
Cindy: It’s the same thing that I’ve been saying: you’re not going to come down; that “devotion of thought to an honest achievement makes the achievement possible.” And to know that if that house is yours, it’s yours, and nobody can take it from you. And if it isn’t right, then you don’t want it, either. And so, give it to God and know that it has to work out, it has to bless everyone: “… whatever blesses one blesses all ….” But then, “All things work together for good to them that love God.” So God is on your side, but He’s also on their side. So there aren’t two sides. There’s just one side, and that’s good.
And so to be able to see that by your eliminating sides, you’ve eliminated the contention. And what you’re doing is you’re trusting, and you’re knowing that there’s an answer, there’s a solution for both parties that will be agreeable.
spirituality.com host: Thank you. Barry, in San Francisco, in California, is saying, “We have a lot of homeless people sleeping in front of our Reading Room. Can you share the right kind of aid that we can give them?”
Cindy: Love them. See them as having a home. I have seen in many instances when I have lectured, that the homeless find themselves in front of Reading Rooms or churches, sleeping. I’ve seen that many times. So there’s an attraction, I feel, of comfort.
But, again, as you go up, and you’re doing the rebuilding, as you’re going up with this vision—to me the vision is that they have a home, the solution. That they’re not without their integrity and their dignity and their self-worth. They haven’t lost that; they haven’t lost sight of it. And that spirit isn’t broken. And that is an opportunity to go up and really see that their needs are met, and that there’s a home for everyone. Home and heaven are within you, and everyone has a home.
So they’re really calling out and saying, “We don’t have any place to go, and this is a comfort zone for us.” But as you pray about it and go up even higher, building that wall brick by brick, and seeing that the Comforter is within them, but also Mind is within them, and Mind is leading them. Maybe Mind will lead them to a shelter. Maybe Mind will lead them to some place for employment. But Mind is leading them upward, onward, and so it would have to be productive for them.
And so our spiritual building is restoration, is restoring to its original. So if they’re being restored to their original, that would mean that they are whole again. And isn’t that really what everybody wants to feel—is whole, intact? No one wants to sleep in front of a Reading Room or a church—I don’t believe so. And so to be able to see that our spiritual building as having an impact on all these issues, on all these problems, because Mind is providing us with the solutions, just like it provided Nehemiah and the good Samaritan with a solution and a sense of direction and a sense of compassion.
spirituality.com host: I love that idea about wholeness. This is a question from Nancy in New Orleans, Louisiana. She’s saying, “Rebuilding communities can involve neighborhood, city, regional, state, and federal support. How can we pray about integrity and leadership?” And that’s a kind of wholeness too, isn’t it?
Cindy: Yes. It’s seeing man from the highest instead of from the lowest. Regardless if they’re in government or not, that identification is what everybody is asking. How are we identifying ourselves? From our driver’s license, our birth certificates, or our passports? Or from the first chapter of Genesis?
And as we can see our government and our officials from that standpoint—you know, FEMA and Homeland Security, they’re not favored right now, it’s not a good time for them—but we can bring healing to that. And that really is what we want. Can you imagine Nehemiah looking down and getting caught up in all of that, and saying, “How did this happen?” and, “Wow, it’s too overwhelming for me to tackle”?
And then when they tried to kill him, to take his life, he didn’t come down. He became wiser. And so intuition, inspiration, is what’s going to communicate to you what you need to see that’s going to allow that spiritual building to take place in your thinking and in your experience.
spirituality.com host: And the first chapter of Genesis, of course, is where God created everything in His own image. And so are you saying that we can see each of these individuals really as spiritually created and under God’s government?
Cindy: Yes. Under His jurisdiction. At the end of that chapter of Genesis it says, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and … it was very good.” And so if we’re seeing that about everyone there, that’s the only true view or vision that we could have that’s going to produce a right outcome. If we’re looking at them from the negative, that’s the mud, we’re slinging mud.
But if we eliminate the criticism and the judging and the condemning, and as we go up, just love with compassion and boundless love, it doesn’t mean that we are being foolish. It means that we are identifying man from the highest instead of from the lowest. And everybody likes to be identified from the highest. They begin to act that way, because that’s what’s being called upon them—to act out from the highest, instead of from the lowest, element.
spirituality.com host: You know, that’s so interesting, because as you were talking, I was thinking back again about Nehemiah and that idea of the highest. If he had gone down and played politics with the people who were against him, they would still be doing that. That wall would have never got built. It was keeping that sense of vision, and insisting on it spiritually. And his certainty that God would fulfill it. Isn’t that part of what you’re saying here?
Cindy: Yes, because those were part of the bricks—the determination, the steadfastness, not being talked out of it, not coming down, not being dismayed or discouraged. But being steadfast, that “devotion of thought to an honest achievement,” that stick-to-itiveness.
spirituality.com host: Now from RB in Indiana, we have a slightly different kind of question. He says, “For someone who has not been involved in the community, local as well as beyond, what would be a good way to begin getting involved?”
Cindy: Well, maybe you could look in the newspaper and see if there are any activities that are going on that you would be interested in becoming involved in. To see what’s around you—maybe tap on your next-door neighbor’s door and ask what he or she is aware of that’s going on in the community. Just becoming neighbors with the people around you and then asking them what activities are they involved in. They will introduce you to what they’re doing, and from there, it will just build.
spirituality.com host: Then there’s one here from Pearl in Idaho, who says, “How do we cut through the racial and cultural barriers that isolate some in the community?”
Cindy: You just love. We just love. The priest and the Levite walked by the injured man. But the Samaritan didn’t. He went there. We have to get to the point that we see man as God made him, and not the color of their skin; and that we are able to just love.
In this last year, I have traveled a lot in Spanish-speaking countries. In June, I was in Spain; and in October and November, in Guatemala; and now recently, in Puerto Rico. When you’re in a different environment, a different culture, you pick up their culture—“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
Well, when I was in Guatemala, when you walk down the street, everybody speaks to you. So they’re always speaking to you according to the time of the day—buenos días, buenas tardes, buenas noches. Well, I was so concerned about speaking to them, one day this man said, Buenos días, and I said, Buenas noches. It was the wrong time of the day that I was saying, but I was so caught up in trying to do my part. And when we just come together, when we don’t feel isolated …. Love unites. It doesn’t divide. It doesn’t separate. It unites.
And Love shows us ways that we can unite so that we don’t feel like we’re an outsider, or we’re cut off and it’s this sense of many races or many groups. It isn’t. It’s one race, one brotherhood. And that really is the key. We have to live that, though. We have to prove that. It can’t be lip service. It has to be something that touches the core of our being, like the good Samaritan, that says, “I want to go beyond myself. I want to go beyond this.”
I can remember in Boston going into a meeting, an interfaith meeting. And I stood up, saying that I was President of The Mother Church. And there was dead silence. It was like, “Where did she come from?” Well, the average person would have run out the front door. But I stayed. And I continued to go to those meeting every month—until there was a change in me. It wasn’t that there was a change in them. But there was a change in me. I had to develop my own comfort zone to realize that there wasn’t a place that I wasn’t welcome; there wasn’t a place that I couldn’t be.
And in the end, the last day that I was leaving Boston, I went to that meeting to tell them good-by, and they called me up to the front of the platform, and they prayed for me. Here was a complete opposite turn from the first time, where it was no recognition that I existed—to the end result where they were blessing me. But I worked at that.
I can’t tell you the building that I have done, the spiritual building that I have done in the last 20 to 25 years. I can go anywhere, and I’m comfortable, because it’s within me. I don’t see cultures and races, I see mankind, I see brotherhood, I see my sisters and my brothers. When we can see our sisters and our brothers, aren’t we going back to Malachi: “Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us”? That’s spiritual building. That’s going up. That’s the vision. But it’s a vision that has to be proved. We have to prove that. And each and every one of us that’s proving it to some degree, is blessing the whole world.
spirituality.com host: That’s very inspiring. And we have a question, speaking of the whole world, from Stacy in New Jersey. She says, “When events like the Philippine mudslides happen, what can we do to help? The whole community has been destroyed. Is prayer enough?”
Cindy: Sometimes, God shows us how to help, where we’re able to either send supplies, send money, to do something. And so that desire to not only pray, but to do something in a tangible way is practical. You can see that the good Samaritan, he didn’t just pray for the man, he did something. So, we can do that.
So I trust that God will show you, if your desire is to help them. How you can help them will be revealed to you. It will just come, in some way. Maybe on the TV there will be a fund that you can contribute to, or something, but your desire will be fulfilled.
spirituality.com host: This is a question from Tom in Montreal, Canada. He says, “Mexicans are going through similar events that the community in Virginia went through a few months ago, with mine workers being trapped. How can we pray for those hundreds of relatives and friends who are waiting for those miners to walk out of that nightmare?”
Cindy: The same way that we were praying for those in Virginia—we don’t stop. And we should be getting better at it because of Virginia—our thought should be, I would feel, more immediate and more effective, so that these types of disasters cease.
So to me, it’s a call upon us for our prayers to be more effective, for us to be able to see through that disaster to the point that we can see God’s face right in the midst of that. So if God’s face is right in the midst of that, that vision would be whatever needs from a human standpoint—maybe there are things there that need to change, regulations, policies that need to change—that those will come to light. And they will be implemented, and then there will be a change, and then that won’t happen in the future.
So it’s a complete plan. It isn’t just working about the mines, that they have better safety regulations, but it’s also those relatives that are waiting for them to come out. And then if they don’t come out, there’s the grief and the sorrow. It’s to be able to see, again, that the Comforter is there and the Comforter is revealing itself to everyone that’s there. In Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy says, “The poor suffering heart needs its rightful nutriment, such as peace, patience in tribulation, and a priceless sense of the dear Father’s loving-kindness.” That, again, is that oil and wine being poured into that situation in Mexico.
spirituality.com host: Thank you. This one is from Fred in New Hampshire, and he’s saying, “Rebuilding communities can be difficult, especially if there are many different agendas present. How do you coordinate everyone’s plans toward one goal? How do you maintain the harmony?” That’s a good question.
Cindy: Well, number one, you’re not maintaining the harmony, God is.
spirituality.com host: Touché!
Cindy: And you’re bringing your harmony with you, and so you become the neutralizer. And so instead of looking at the friction and the inharmony and the confusion and misunderstanding, you’re bringing your view to the table from a spiritual standpoint—from that vision that Nehemiah had, you’re building there. And so what you are bringing with you has to have an impact, has to make a difference. You’re seeing something different.
You can’t see harmony and peace and joy and true brotherhood, and then also see conflict and division and separation. You can’t hold to two opinions at the same time, so you have to choose which one. And again, it’s that devotion of thought to an honest achievement that makes the achievement possible. If you desire to bring healing or freedom or brotherhood to that situation, then those angel messages are going to come to you, and they’re going to be revealed to you in a way that you can see the change that’s taking place right where you are. And then you’ll continue until it’s permanent, until it’s complete.
I continued with my next-door neighbor until it was complete. I didn’t stop until there was a definite change. And she became my friend. And she helped me. I remember when I had a flat tire, I called her, and she came to get me. She became my friend. It wasn’t just, Okay, Michael can play with my son. She became my friend.
spirituality.com host: That is a big difference.
spirituality.com host: Well, speaking of families and family demands, Eduardo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, says, “When I try to help members of my community with prayer or similar assistance, I too frequently find that my desire to help has been used to manipulate me into material assistance—money or something like that. How do you handle this type of situation?”
Cindy: Again, as you’re going up—and the clarity of your thought and your motives and the purity of your thought—you couldn’t possibly be taken advantage of, you couldn’t possibly be manipulated, because you’re listening. You’re listening to Mind, you’re listening to God. And so He isn’t going to have you do something that isn’t right, for you or for them. And this, again, we’re going up. And I would say the mud is that there’s a manipulator out there.
All these pictures of man from a material standpoint, need to be changed. The first chapter of Genesis shows a spiritual view of creation. That murky view of man is not in the first view of creation. And as we begin to go up and to see man as totally spiritual and are able to define, What does that mean?—that’s integrity.
What I hear you saying is, There’s a lack of integrity, there’s a lack of honor. And that lack of honor and integrity is there. But honor and integrity are there, are present. Maybe you can’t see it because of the mud, so we need to wash that mud off until the true view, the true identity, shines forth and that’s what you’re seeing. So that’s your spiritual building—restoring to its original. Restoration, regeneration. You’re going up.
That woman next door to me, I would say, if I were to share how they treated us, that you would say that that person was a racist. But you never heard me say those words, because I never saw her that way. I would never see anybody that way. I would never call anyone that. I would only see the highest.
And what you’re seeing is what you’re going to receive. If you’re seeing what’s true, then what’s true is going to come back to you. And if it’s not evident today, you don’t stop. You keep building and building and building, and then you become so confident and so assured that under the mud is the perfect child of God, is the loving, caring child of God. Somebody needs to wash away the mud.
spirituality.com host: That’s great. Jean in Auburn, California, says, “How can we get past the political polarization? Even in our letters to the editor, name-calling and rancor seem to be dominating over the issues and finding solutions.” More mud washing needed, huh?
Cindy: It’s all the same. It’s our ability to go up, and to say, I’m building, and I’m not going to come down to that level. You’re not avoiding it. You’re not turning aside like the priest or the Levite. You are looking at it, but you are doing something to it. That’s the difference. The priest and the Levite did nothing. They didn’t want to have any part of it. But the Samaritan did something about it. I’m sure he was a different person, and I’m sure that Nehemiah was a different person in the end—because the building went on within them. And it was evidenced outwardly.
So if we’re looking at the name-calling, if we’re looking at this in the newspaper and on the TV, or whatever, it’s still coming to us as an opportunity for us to go up and to say, I’m going to put a different brick up. I’m going to see a different quality. I’m going to see man totally clothed in his rightful mind, loving, including righteousness, right thinking, right acting. That’s restoration.
spirituality.com host: Daisy, who’s writing from the West Coast says—this is sort of a comment, actually—“Do you think perhaps that Nehemiah’s weapon in one hand and tool in the other could be representing his mental defense, which denied any negative influence, plus his positive tool which affirmed his confidence in God’s protection?”
Cindy: I would say so. He was working at it. He was building. And that tool of putting on and seeing the completion of that task, but also seeing that there wasn’t any opposition, and that this spiritual building could come to fruition. And isn’t this what all those comments and those questions are saying? They’re really yearning—the one who wants to buy the house in Shreveport—for fulfillment, fruition. That’s what they want. In New Orleans, Harriet—it’s fruition, fulfillment, completion. Everybody, that’s what they’re saying.
But that’s all part of being the child of God. We include fulfillment. We include that perfect, complete state of being that has everything. As we see that about ourselves, it isn’t just for ourselves, it’s for the world. And the world is hungering for that view. And as we can pour that view, that oil and wine, on our day-to-day problems and our day-to-day issues that confront us.
Then we’re binding up those thoughts, those criticisms, those condemnations. We’re binding them; we’re burning them. And if they’re burned, there isn’t any place present for them to be seen. And the place one’s seeing them, shall see that no more.
And so your confidence rises, too. I can imagine that Nehemiah’s confidence level had risen at the end of the 52 days.
I would imagine that he was stronger at the end of 52 than he was on day one. And I would encourage everyone to build and to build. Maybe get a journal and write down the ideas that are coming and the challenges that you’re confronted with—and the date.
And then look back five days later and say, Where are you today in the view that you had on day one? Day 52 would have to be entirely different than day one. And that would give you such a storehouse, such a staff to lean on. So that when something came up—like in Shreveport, when they can’t seem to come to agreement—I’m sure in your storehouse of experience in praying to God, you would have many experiences where the confusion and the disagreements just fell. And so you can go back and lean on that, and say, It happened then, so it will happen now. It’s our assurance that allows the obstacles and the limitations and the restrictions to fall, because we’re so convinced of the solution. Nehemiah was convinced of the solution.
spirituality.com host: That’s really helpful. Susan in Boston is writing, “Do you have a favorite story of seeing community rebuilding happen in your own experience, working with The Mother Church?”
Cindy: Yes. I have lots of stories. Don’t have time for all those stories. But the most favorite story is Rosie’s Place. I had given two lectures for the Peace Institute, and the fliers had gone out electronically to all the churches and all the organizations in Boston.
And there was a woman at Rosie’s Place that saw the flier, and she called me up, and said, “I just saw your flier about this lecture that you’re giving on overcoming anger and retaliation and replacing them with peace and harmony.” And she said, “I can’t come, but I’m wondering—we’re getting ready to do an interfaith, healing service, and I’m wondering if you’d be a part of it.”
That was a connection. I didn’t even know her, but she saw the flier, and she felt like that she wanted me to be a part of this interfaith event. So I said yes. And for the next two months, we worked together. There were Methodists, Lutherans, Catholics, and Baptists, and Rosie’s Place.
spirituality.com host: And Rosie’s place is…
Cindy: A homeless shelter.
spirituality.com host: Was it for women?
Cindy: Yes, for women. And then, there was also a program for those struggling with alcohol. And it included Jewish women. So we were part of this interfaith healing service.
A man at the service stood up and said that he had been struggling with alcohol for the last 15 years, that he was a recovering alcoholic. And he talked about how he had stopped drinking and how he was overcoming it. And he said, “It’s a disease that I’m working to control.” And there were other people that participated.
Then it was my turn. I stood up, and I shared how I had been healed of [using illegal] drugs. And the significance of saying that over 25 years ago, I had been healed of drugs. I wasn’t recovering from drugs, it had been healed, I had been set free of it. And because I had been set free of it through prayer, I was now going out and helping others to be set free of it also. I can’t tell you what an impact that had on the audience.
There were over 60 people. And for them to come up afterward and to thank me, and to say, “You’ve given me hope that I can be set free of this,” that one incident—I mean, there were others, but that one incident of being right in the midst of community. I was in community, and I was building bridges. I was helping them to see that it isn’t that you’re recovering from something, and then you’re struggling with it, and you’re going to struggle with it all your life, but you’ve been set free of it. And that was what they needed to hear.
spirituality.com host: That’s really great. We’re running close to the end of our time, but we’re going to extend it a little bit, so we can answer about four more questions.
This one is from someone who hasn’t given his or her name, but is in Eugene, Oregon, and the writer is saying, “How does one address spiritually what would appear to be cultural incompetence, that is, statements and behaviors that seem to perpetuate old stereotypes? Unfortunately, we live in a very ethnically homogeneous city that has been historically racially homogenous. Is there a way we can get past the politically-correct way of interacting with persons who appear to differ from us phenotypically? As a person of color, I pray about this daily. But I’m finding that though I don’t want to, I’m feeling alone and somewhat alienated.”
Cindy: It goes back to everything that I’ve said. It’s spiritual identity. I’ll go back to my experience. If I really had believed about the person next to me that there was a difference in the way God loved us—that she was white and I was black, and so God loved her more because she was white and me less because I was black, I acted a different way than she did, or had a different mind than she did, whatever, or that I had less than she had, and she had more—I couldn’t have brought healing, I couldn’t have brought restoration to that situation, because I would still have been looking at it from a lower level, a human level. I would still have been seeing flaws and inadequacies. We’re always going to see that when we look at man from a human standpoint.
When we go up and see man from a spiritual standpoint, it’s a different view, it’s a different experience. And that eliminates all the barriers. It just eliminates it. You just feel so connected.
I was in Guatemala—and I’m not fluent enough in Spanish to say that I could go there and just start talking. But I was with a host family and wanted to be able every day to speak a little bit more to them when I had my meals with them. But there wasn’t any distinction. It wasn’t like, They’re Guatemalans, and I’m an African-American woman. We were all breaking bread together. But do you know why? Because that’s the way I see myself.
So if I had gone there and was thinking that the culture wasn’t racially diverse, and I was alienated and separated, then that’s what I would have found. And maybe even if I hadn’t been thinking that, even if they had been thinking that, I would have to accept it in order to experience it. And I guess that’s the key: even though Nehemiah knew that there were people—Sanballat and Tobiah—out there to do him harm, and they asked him to go and meet them at Ono, he said no. He didn’t come down to that human level.
And so wherever we find ourselves, as we refuse to go down to that human view of creation, but we keep building to that spiritual view of creation, that’s what we experience.
I grew up in an all-white neighborhood, where there were race riots all the time. At four years old, to have my sister and brother come home from school talking about race riots wasn’t a good thing. But you would never hear from me, or feel from me, that I feel in any way victimized, or that I was subject to that while I was growing up and even as an adult, because I don’t see that. I see that those experiences forced me to see who I am. I know who I am, spiritually. And when I go in any different setting—to travel the world and feel so comfortable, so welcomed, that’s the outcome of this spiritual building that has taken place within me.
In Eugene I refused to come down, in each case. I could have come down. I could have been injured, could have been hurt, could have had a pity party, could have been angry, but each time I went up and up and up. And it took me up, and it gave me a mastery. I feel such a mastery over that challenge of racism, or challenge of race. It just isn’t in me. It just isn’t there.
I see man spiritually. And I see myself that way. And that’s how I’m treated. So when we see who we are, and we are happy with who we are, that determines how we’re treated. It isn’t outside. It’s within us. And when we can see that, and we feel so good, we’re not going to give it away. You’re not going to come down. You’re going to keep building and building those bricks until you become so secure—and happy—that right there in Eugene, you’re just leaping with joy, because the barriers have fallen. Those barriers have fallen because of your vision.
spirituality.com host: Thank you. This one is from Karen in California, and it’s a little bit complex, so I’m just going to give the high points here. “Our community’s ministerial association has some members that want to change the bylaws in ways that others can’t approve of.” And what seems to have happened is that they’ve broken up into factions and people are dismayed by that. And she’s saying, “How can this group resolve their differences and work together for their community?”
Cindy: Love. Come together and realize, okay, what is it that binds us? What is it that unites us? And write down everything that unites you, and then build on that. And that will eliminate the factions. That will eliminate this sense of being fragmented. And you will see the oneness return, because the oneness is there. So again, you’re building on that oneness, and not on the fact that there are many aspects of dissension, but you’re building on the oneness, which is love.
The good Samaritan just loved. And if that love is in our consciousness, if that love is within us, and that love is overflowing, then pour on the oil and the wine in your church. Just keep pouring it in and pouring it in and pouring it in, until there’s nothing left for you to pour in. Love heals.
spirituality.com host: Thank you. Wendy’s in Riverside, and she says, “In the community of family, I find times when I have to aggressively address bad actions my teenagers take. It comes out as anger, and then I feel guilty. I remember that Jesus got angry at the moneychangers, but I also know that love is a better way to handle things. How can I overcome this confusion?”
Cindy: Well, Love is going to communicate. And Love is going to communicate to you, Wendy, when you see that child the way God made them. Then you’ll communicate to that child. But when we’re seeing the flaws and the bad behavior and the attitudes, it’s a reaction. But when we can know the truth so clearly, so firmly, that has an impact. Sometimes we forget that the power of prayer is effective; that it doesn’t need communication sometimes.
I remember hearing something about my granddaughter that was very troubling to me. And for a whole month, I just prayed every day. I never said a word to her, I never said a word to my son or his wife about it. I just knew for that whole month what was true about her.
And when she came to see me for Thanksgiving, and I asked her about the situation, she said, “Oh, I’m not doing that any more. That’s over.” That was it. But it was my steadfastness, it was my devotion of thought to an honest achievement. What did it do for me? It regenerated me to see, What was I believing in her? What was I seeing in her? Was I seeing what was true in the first chapter of Genesis? Or was I seeing what was in the second chapter—the mud view? And so, I refused to do that.
It’s hard when we’re face-to-face with our children, our teenagers. It’s hard, and I understand that. And so God is going to give you the strength not to react, but to go up, and to pour in the oil and the wine until all that behavior is just turned around and changed.
spirituality.com host: Great. Well, we have just two more now. This is from Tammy in Arizona, and in a way it relates to what you’ve just been talking about. She says, “How can I pray for some youth today who seem to be relying on drugs and alcohol and so forth, to find their own sense of place in the community or society?”
Cindy: You know, kids nowadays do drugs and alcohol for a lot of different reasons—peer pressure, it’s the norm, it’s expected of them. But again, our spiritual building is seeing the false view of a teenager. It’s looking at that teenager and saying, “Is this the prodigal son gone out, or the prodigal son come back?” I would prefer to see the prodigal son come back, when he was restored to his senses.
And so, it’s up to us to see that these kids, the youth, haven’t gone off on their own to a far-off country and they’re rebelling. But to see that they’re clothed in their rightful mind. A child—receptivity, teachableness. To go back and to write down, to build. What does it look like? What are those bricks? What do they symbolize? What are those qualities? Those are the qualities that you’re seeing for the youth—that’s proper identification.
Those youths are going to thank you a hundredfold in the end, because somebody needs to see them correctly. And the majority of the world is seeing youth from a very negative standpoint. So somebody needs to see them from that higher view that Nehemiah had.
spirituality.com host: That’s great. And finally, this is from San Juan, Puerto Rico, from Rebecca, who says she’s grateful for the topic, and she says, “Our church is located in San Therese on an area where many old wooden houses had been expropriated by the government, and hew high-rises, very expensive, are going to be built. We as a church have been seeing these people who have to leave the place they have lived all their lives.” She says, “You have inspired me to see the situation differently. Thank you.” So we’re just really grateful to you, Rebecca, for letting us know. And we know that, like Nehemiah, you and your fellow church members are going to find a good answer. Isn’t that right, Cindy?
spirituality.com host: Well, Cindy, we’re really grateful to you for spending this extra time with us and for sharing these wonderful ideas. And before we go, Cindy, did you have anything else you’d like to add, or have we said what we need to say?
Cindy: I would encourage everybody out there to become a Nehemiah and a good Samaritan together—to just join forces to realize that the steadfastness and the vision that Nehemiah had, coupled with love and compassion, is a good team. And when we can implement that on a daily basis, it’s a powerhouse. And the world, and your communities, and your neighborhoods need that vision and that love. And as you are expressing that love wherever you go, every place you go is going to be so blessed because of that vision.
spirituality.com host: Thank you so much. And thanks to all of you who’ve joined us, for your prayers, for your good questions, and for participating with us this day.
Citations mentioned in this chat:
Science and Health:
King James Bible:
Neh. 2:18 Let
Luke 10:33 came (to
Luke 10:34 his wounds,35
Matt. 10:26 there
Isa. 9:6 and the (to 2nd
Neh. 6:3 I am
Rom. 8:28 all (to ,)
Gen. 1:31 (to .)
Mal. 2:10 (to 2nd ?)
Luke 15:11-32 A
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