A Letter of Hope

I have often kicked against the pricks, but to be frank with you, some of the kickings were the growing pains of my soul goading me on to fresh endeavor.

Speaking of growing pains of one’s soul leads me back to my opening words about receiving from my parents something of their strong child-like faith in God. The way my father answered our childish questions and trained us, has been a great help in understanding my Heavenly Father’s teachings during many years of my life. I remember once going to my father when studying the catechism and asking him about a question of doctrine, concerning which my mother’s and father’s churches were at variance. He explained the meaning of the words to me, then when I turned and said, “Which shall I believe?” he replied, laying one hand gently on my head: “I shall never tell you which to believe.” Then with his other hand he took up a sponge and explained to me how it had bee made, then added, “Your brain resembles very much this sponge; these are the years when you are building cells. Learn all these things now by heart, and then absorb and think them over as the sponge absorbs water: later you will decide what to believe and perhaps even,” he added jestingly, “when you are pressed you will give out in another form what you have absorbed.”

My father seldom fully answered our questions at the time when we asked them, or, if he did he told us some story. Usually he allowed some incident or experience of our own lives to show us the lesson or answer the question. His habit was to take us each week, generally on Saturdays, on a walk out into the country and there answer our questions. The week following my questions he took us up to a high hill where we knew well all the surrounding country. After we were tiring of playing he called us to him and asked us to point out the land belonging to different men whom we knew, and to find the boundaries to their properties, when we explained, “Why, we are so high up we can hardly see the fences and stone walls,” he answered, “That is just what I wanted: you asked me the difference between your mother’s belief and my belief, and which was right. Remember the higher up you live and the nearer you are to heaven, the less the stones and fences, or the differences in the faith will be seen. Your mother’s church is more like Mr. S’s estate where all his flowers and fruit are raised under glass. Mine is like a garden of cabbages, turnips, and onions; for the working man. Both have their part of God’s vineyard and kingdom. When you go back to your work, don’t forget how little the difference counts and remember the visions you received when you were higher up. Live much on the height. Be often alone with God.” So I think it is that our Father who is in heaven teaches us our lessons by incidents and experience of health and sickness if only we wait and watch for his answers to our questions. Now that I am coming back to health and to work I wish to recall some of the things and give them to others as far as I can.

This is a poor account of a very uneventful life and of the means I used to get well. You know Ruskin says, “The best of a book is the thoughts it suggest.” and this letter of mine may suggest something to you. I have put it into every-day language and expressed myself inadequately, but it is a record of an Infinite Power beyond and outside me. I feel very humble. I might have done so much better.

Now I will close and once more lock the doors of the past; I have given you some of the keys. For myself I will live in the spirit of the words which I chose after that operation: “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Yours Sincerely,

E. Worcester

January 1908

A Letter of Hope

One experience of my life before I was sick helped me much in hours of depression, for I have had hours when I was intensely unhappy; only I could always feel the sun shinning behind the cloud, and the thoughts and impulses never came in the “real ego.” I suppose a few people ever went down into a mine. I did once, and into a shaft where you had to descend and ascend by ladders. As we were returning to the surface my companions said: “Wait a minute on this round,—-stand firm and twist your arms about this round so and hold fast, and then throw you head back a little, think of nothing else but look up. I am going to put out the lantern” ; which he did before I could remonstrate, and such a blackness I never imagined. I looked up and there as the evening star shinning with such brilliancy and power straight down the mouth of the shaft that I could not utter a word or thing of anything else. He lighted the lantern at last and we climbed to the surface in silence. Was he not wise not to say or suggest anything to my mind about the abyss that yawned below me? That evening star has always had new power and meaning to me ever since I saw it from the depth. And so, after our sickness and periods of unhappiness, the stars of faith and hope that shine through our darkness have new power for us. Sometimes, after trying every round of the ladder of effort to pull myself out of a feeling of unhappiness, I have had to wait on some round and hold fast. A doctor once said to me, “Be bold of those hours of waiting after you have tried every means to change the current of your thoughts; not being bold doesn’t make it good. Bear them as you would severe pains, after you have tried every remedy, with patience offering the thoughts themselves even, up to God, in some such way. “I cannot stop these thoughts or feelings. Take them from if it be Thy Will.” And when I stopped being unconcerned about them they stopped after a very short time. Doctors say, “While there is life there is hope.” I propose turning this saying round, While there is hope there is life. Hope cures diseases than medicines. Even we ourselves groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope, but hope that is seen is not hope, for what a man seeth why doth he yet hope for. But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it, and every man who hath this hope in himself purified himself.”

E. Worcester 1908