A Letter of Hope

The second time that these past habits of thought helped me was in a great crisis, when I had to undergo a very severe operation, so severe indeed that nearly every doctor said it would be useless and I might not live through it. As I would die if not operated on, I took the, “ghost of a chance.” I pass over the first long weeks of suffering. When the surgeon came to take out the stitches, much to my surprise he turned to me and said: “Pardon my asking a personal question,— but, as the nurses and I watched you during the first days after the operation and often since, even when your face was twisted by pain, a smile passed over it and you looked so happy. We do not often see persons smile like that here. Would you mind telling us what you were thinking about then?” I blushed and at first felt that I could not answer. Then I said to myself, there is nothing to be ashamed of, and hesitantly replied: “I think my mind has been like a phonograph. During the past few weeks there were impressions and plates passing through it which I could not turn off. You know what my life has been for years before the operation, from lounge to bed and from bed to lounge, and only occasionally getting out of doors. To keep my mind from being affected by my nerves and my sickness I have memorized much poetry, and have also written verses both comical and serious. Then I memorized photographs and places in such a way that they were all so deeply impressed I literally could not turn them off. These things kept me from feeling the pain as much as I otherwise would. It was like floating on ever moving streams and seeing beautiful pictures. Then, besides your skill, I felt little fear for I know that underneath me are the Everlasting Arms.” This last was very hard for me to say as I knew the surgeon had no religious belief. It is hard for me also to repeat his answer to you, but I do so that you may not think this was at all my imagination. He turned to the assisting nurse, saying: “When I see cases like this, I almost believe in a Divine Power, when I see how delicate, nervous men go through such severe operations. I thought when I first saw Mr. Hope he had only a “ghost of a chance,” but it is only another lesson of the power of mind over matter. He will break the record and go home days earlier than most patients” ; and I did. Doctors came to see me. It was no miracle. First and foremost it was God’s blessing, to which was added the skill of the doctors an surgeons and the simple unconscious habits of mind which I had been forming for years. “It is the same God which worketh all in all.”

E. Worcester 1908

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