I learned the value of gratitude. I was stretched out in bed, unable to move except with extreme pain. I had been in a car accident, taken to a hospital, bandaged, and sent to a room to recuperate.
A Christian Science practitioner whom I did not know had been called, and she came to the hospital to pray for me. (Although I had been sewn up, I was not having medication.) As I lay motionless, the practitioner sat at my bedside and prayed. I only remember her saying this one thing; leaning over and looking me straight in the eye, she said, "Young man, you're not grateful!" I thought, but did not say, that if she were in the pain I was, she wouldn't be grateful either. But she had been praying for me diligently, and I knew her words were not meant to condemn me. And so when she was gone I lay there thinking. What followed is as vividly clear to me now as it was so long ago. I'd been rehearsing the accident, which had resulted in a broken collarbone and severe head injuries, over and over. It finally came to me that the lady had said I was not grateful, and I must prove her wrong. Right there, right then, I would be grateful.
What happened next was like lifting a heavy, rusty, neglected old lid and looking down into a long-empty well. I attempted to pull myself out of this mental pit and to be grateful - pretty lamely at first, it seemed. But soon I began to see things to be grateful for - I noticed that it was warm and dry in my room, while outside it was black and pouring rain. That was a beginning. I went on; it was a nice bed. Nice warm covers. I became uplifted with gratitude.
I did not just get right up and dance a jig, but the period of recovery was short - that I do remember. I started teaching school the next day, and was well enough to ask and answer questions. I was fully healed in about a week.
That was long ago, and although the pain and inconvenience are long forgotten, the lesson of being grateful has remained fresh and vigorous. In all the years since the day of the accident, I have never had to call or consult a doctor or take any medicine. It is great to start and end each day and each meal with silent, honest gratitude.
Housing was practically unobtainable where my wife and I decided to further our educations. We had makeshift living quarters to last three weeks and no more. Every day we looked but found nothing.
The last day I was sure our bags would garnish the sidewalk. My wife (bless her) was undisturbed. "You go on to work, and I will look," she said. That was when gratitude saved us. My job was grubby: do this thing over and over. My hands worked automatically and I didn't have to think. So I spent eight hours in prayer and in being grateful to God. Whenever I felt myself slipping and worrying and going over our problems, I pulled myself back. And I went home a happy man.
My wife met me at the door with a big smile. She had found our new quarters, and we were to move in the next day! The apartment was right across the street from the university, completely furnished, and the rent was exactly what we had decided we could afford.
At that time money, or the lack of it, was always a problem. Once again, I tried to be truly grateful for the good we already had. I also asked for the prayers of a practitioner. And right away a former instructor asked if I would be interested in tutoring a failing student. At the first session, with gratitude bubbling again, I asked this student if she wanted just to pass; why couldn't she try for a top grade? With new hope, she agreed to leave failure behind, and in three weeks she led the class. I was rewarded by such an influx of tutoring jobs that my profession included tutoring from then on. This brought a permanent answer to our chronic lack of funds.
Such is the way of gratitude.