I think to this is due many of our unaccomplished moments, and also our lack of power to help others. I know a young woman who worked eighteen years in an office where the surroundings were intensely unpleasant to her, but she created her own atmosphere and raised the tone and influenced all around her so that when she left the change was most marked. I like the lines of Browning:
“The common problem, yours, mine, every one’s
Is not to fancy what were fair in life
Providing it could be,— but, finding first
What may be, then find how to make it fair
Up to our means,— a very different thing.
My business is not to remake myself,
But make the absolute best of what God made.”
One question I puzzled over much during my very long illness: why the minister, the doctor and the patient did not usually work more together and in harmony. Perhaps, if I cite one case which came to my knowledge, it may explain more vividly what I mean. A friend was suddenly taken critically ill: her family were most of them so far away that they could not reach her in less than a week, even when capable to come immediately. My friend had the greatest desire to live until they arrived and the doctor certainly used every means of science to prolong life except this most important one of letting her see her pastor. My friend expressed very, very often her desire to see the clergyman, who was a personal, dear friend and a cheerful, true-hearted man. The nurse told me afterwards that it was pitiful to see with what wistfulness the door was watched and how often the clergyman’s name was on her lips. Yet the doctor, although nominal Christian, refused, always making some excuse to be patient, but to the nurse and servants saying: “She will think herself dying if she sees the minister and she must not have the faintest idea she is so ill — do not let her see him.” Her rector called daily, but was always met with some excuse and put off. She died without seeing him—without seeing her family, with only faithful servants around her.
E. Worcester 1908