IT WAS on a Friday morning that I awoke to find myself in a very uncomfortable condition. When I tried to speak I found that my voice was little more than a squeak. Between efforts a hard, rasping cough shook me. It was with anything but pleasure that I realized that here were all the appearances of a violent cold affecting the nose and bronchial tubes.
As if to make me feel worse about the matter a voice from within reminded me that I was expected to talk to a class of Truth students at 10:30 that morning, and to address another group in the evening. The prospect of being able to make myself understood, or to impress my hearers with what I had to say, seemed hopeless. I could not appear before them in that condition. What to do?
Let us look backward. Only a few years ago I would have at once canceled both talks. I would have remained bundled up in bed until noon. Then I would have dressed warmly, adding a muffler and a heavy overcoat with the collar turned up to my ears. Thus attired, I would have attended to a portion of my work, sidestepped the rest, and returned home as early as possible to sit over the fire until bedtime, nursing the cold. That is just what I should have donenursed the coldand it would have grown under my tender care until I should have considered myself lucky to be rid of it in a week or ten days. But no more of that foolishness for me!
We are told that, if we know Truth, this knowledge will set us free from all bondage. This applies to everything. The child who learns the truth regarding a shadow is no longer frightened by it. So let us learn the facts regarding colds, and be free from their influence. And this knowledge may help to free us from some other things to which we seem to be in bondage. It is really very simple, this truth.
Nursing a cold seems to be a real pleasure to many people. If it were not, why do they spend so much time doing it? And this reminds me of a scene that I looked in upon one evening many years ago, professionally. I found a man sitting before an air-tight stove in which a huge fire was roaring, his feet in a pail of hot water and mustard. His dressing gown was closed tightly up to his neck, which was swathed in a flannel bandage. Under this ornament I found a thin slice of salt pork. A towel was draped picturesquely around his head, and he was sipping hot lemonade between sneezes and coughs. Every door and window in the room was tightly shut, while the air was redolent with the fumes of camphor coming from a pan of hot water on the stove. His face bore a hopeless expression as he asked me plaintively what else he had better do!
What a picture he made. It was all that I could do to restrain a laugh when I looked at him. He had been nursing a simple, little cold for two days, and the youngster had grown so vigorously under his care that he had become alarmed and had called for help. Even in those days this manner of treatment did not appeal to me. It seemed so ridiculous for a big, strong man to give in so easily. By means of an ancient joke I got the semblance of a smile out of him; then I sent him to bed, with orders to remove all the decorations, to cover up warmly, and to leave the windows open so that a little fresh air might reach his lungs. He also received a good dose of reassurance, and the next day found him decidedly better.
Do you remember how, when we were children, if we happened to sneeze just once, our dear grand mothers would say when we went out of doors, “Now wrap up warm and keep your coat buttoned. You must take care of that cold”? Well, we took good care of it. Indeed, it seemed that we could never get rid of it, such good care did we give it. Just think of the barrels upon barrels of flaxseed tea, camomile tea, and so on that have been poured into unoffending little stomachs! Recall the tons of mustard plasters and goose grease that have been applied to shrinking little chests in the effort to conquer colds! We suffered, but we recovered in spite of these things, thanks to the reparative power within us. Many years ago I discovered what any-body ought to be able to see, that, while all these procedures are good for the cold, very good indeed, they do not give any real help to the sufferer, so I rebelled and stopped nursing colds. I also discovered some other things regarding these ailments.
What is a cold? It is a bacterial invasion of the mucous membrane of the air passages. The swelling of the tissues in the nose is nature’s way of preventing further penetration, and the profuse discharge is an effort on the part of the cells to wash the invaders away. These are only signs of trouble and require no treatment. One’s trying to “dry up a cold” may have disastrous consequences, but that is what most people do, which is beginning at the wrong end. We must go deeper than the mere symptoms and appearances. We must go after the cause.
Like all infections, a cold can only affect us if we have allowed our resistance to drop. Perhaps we have been worrying over something. Perhaps we have been gloomy in our outlook. Depressing thoughts lower the vitality and resistance of the body, while cheerful thoughts raise both. I have frequently observed that optimistic, happy people are less troubled with colds and other infections than those who carry an air of gloom wherever they go. If we can bring up our resistance again the cold will soon disappear, for the leucocytes, our little warriors provided by the Father, will attend to the invading germs if we give them a chance. Sunshine and fresh air are of great help toward this end, but joy, and faith in the inner power, are the main boosters of resistance. So let us cultivate joy, and keep our faith keyed up, if we wish to be well.
We are subject to colds because we have a fear of them, and for no other reason. But why should we have this dread? Turn back in thought to childhood again. “Willie, put on your rubbers. If you get your feet wet you’ll catch your death o’ cold. Mary, don’t sit in that draft. I don’t want you sneezing all around the place.” Then, when the weather became a little chilly, “Put on your nice flannels. You’ll catch cold if you don’t.” Do you see? There was the start of the trouble from which some of us suffer today. These gentle suggestions, frequently planted in our minds, sank deeper and deeper to be-come subconscious fears, and we are having trouble in getting rid of them, that is all. Getting the feet wet, or sitting in a draft, is perfectly harmless if we have no fear of a bad result, and if we are up to par in other ways. I have proved this by actual test.
Some people find it difficult to break the old habit of thought. We were taught that drafts would give us colds. This is not true, but nine people out of ten will move if they feel the slightest breeze across the neck. They may even begin to sneeze as the buried fear creeps out. Since we know that it is only a fear, how much better it is to deny that it has any power, and to laugh at it. If we do this it will disappear.
The younger generation are dressing today in a manner that would have filled our elders with fears of pneumonia, and the young folks do not suffer from it. They are healthier than their parents were at the same age. My little daughter’s clothes, or rather lack of them, would have given my dear mother a terrible shock. But Molly and all the children in the neighborhood are remarkably free from colds. They have built up their natural resistance and they are free from these subconscious fears. As we older ones begin to cast off our fears and to dress sensibly we find that the continual dread of colds was only a bugaboo. It is a silly fear which we should throw off as quickly as possible.
The human body needs sunlight and air, and the more it gets the better. This has been well proved at some of the larger sanitariums. Air and sunlight are life to us as well as to all living things. Too much bundling up, particularly when the weather is not really cold, makes the skin sensitive to changes in temperature. Living in close, overheated rooms does the same thing. Then we react uncomfortably to the slightest chill; the subconscious fear of a cold, planted during childhood, comes to the surface, and we surrender. Yes, we, the highest manifestations of the one intelligence, give in to a few bacteria, which are among the very lowest forms of life. Our behavior is really laughable. We allow our subconscious selves to rule us, instead of asserting our mastery as the Father intended. This is the mistake for which we suffer, and we have no one to blame but ourselves.
While these thoughts were running through my head it was still Friday morning, and I was face to face with the appearance of a cold, and the necessity of speaking in an understandable manner. I realized that I must prove my faith or take a back seat. I decided not to nurse this cold; I had done enough of that in the past. It must not grow. I did not want it, had not consciously invited it, but there it was, an unwelcome visitor from my subconscious region. I decided that I would not surrender, that I would be the master.
I do not know what you would do in such a situation, but I do know what you should do. You should claim your unity with the one life, claim it until you feel the life thrilling through you. Then you should declare that the intelligence in you is superior to that of any microbe, and that these things cannot have power over you, who are an expression of the one life. I did this. I made these declarations firmly and faithfully until I felt that I had control of affairs. Then I dressed as usual, ate a good breakfast, and went about my business, repeating these claims whenever the cold tried to intrude. Putting warm food into the stomach helps to equalize the circulation, and it gives the system added energy with which to drive out the invaders.
Did it work? Well, at 10:30 I spoke to my class with very little effort, and at the evening meeting I gave the talk from which I have abbreviated this article. So you may judge of the efficacy of my method for yourselves.
We are each an expression of the one intelligence, the highest expression, and we must not allow ourselves to be ruled by anything having such a low degree of life as a microbe. We were given dominion over all things, and we must maintain it. It is not glorifying the Father to allow any but Him to have power over us. We must not be backward in claiming our birthright or dominion over everything. It is only he who is firm and strong that wins out. We must deny that subconsciously feared drafts, wet feet, and colds can affect us in any way. When we deny their power they will not harm us.
Since we have learned the truth about colds, let us know that they cannot affect us. Let us know that the highest expressions of the one life cannot be ruled by the lower forms of life. When we know these things fully, colds cannot trouble us. The same rules apply to all infective conditions, so this knowledge, if we apply it fearlessly, will free us from all bacterial diseases.