A Letter of Hope

Dear Reader,

I remember a happy, uneventful childhood, with the exception of one severe illness and an unfortunate fall over the banister, from which I was picked up unconscious, and when I came to myself I finished the sentence I was saying as I fell, and apparently was, then, as well as ever. At fifteen I realized where my mother’s uncollected sense was leading and, besides my school work, threw myself heart and soul into the effort to save her, undertaking the housekeeping and many other duties. At seventeen I was ready for college, but took a severe cold to which I paid no attention; and just as I was going to pass my examinations, hemorrhages set in. Even now, I can hardly speak of it, so keen was my displeasing sense, for I was rather a book worm. My physician was far in advance of the times, as that was twenty odd years ago. He made me live out in a tent and gave me other rules for my health which are now used in curing tuberculosis.

Then it was that I began to practice, or rather I formed, two habits of thought, which I would specially emphasize as helping me.

1st Prayer and Intercessory Prayer, or, as Bishop Brent calls it, “loving one’s neighbor on one’s knees.” This, however, is too sacred. I cannot go into it even to you further, than to say it certainly is the best method to keep one from becoming self-centered; for one must learn to love and to do for those for whom we pray; and, even if has only strength to do little things, such doings takes one out of one’s self.

2d. I formed the habit of trying to have the sense of praise the first thought on waking. I did not mean thanksgiving, but simple praise to God for what He is. Giving of thanks depends somewhat, to be honest with one’s self, on feeling or mood; but praise is outside one’s self, and, if the habit is persisted in, becomes natural, almost unconscious, and comes nearly before one is really awake. I can liken these thoughts of praise only to the soft twittering song of the birds in the early morning, a music of the heart which colors the whole day. Praise I found often kindles the responsive feeling of love, even when our hearts feel cold and dull, and leads us away from self even more than prayer. Then before thinking of the day’s duties or plans, I relaxed my body completely, and before rising devoted a few moments to the thinking of the force, the power, the strength stored up ready to use, as in a great, never ceasing reservoir outside myself; and that whatever is given me to do that day I had only to draw on it, and to act as a transmitter of that force and strength to others.

1908 E. Worcester

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