Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Healing Power of words


Feeling really tired right now, but have no one but myself to blame for that. Was up unusually late watching TV. Ever watched a movie and it really isn’t all that good, but you keep watching waiting for something to happen but it never does. I am then kicking myself for sitting up so late to watch something so silly. Makes you almost feel like a bit of an idiot or something. Well I seem to be able to out do most in the idiot department. Right after the movie ended, I was surprised to see they had made a sequel. Yup, did the same thing and watched it all the way through. Thank goodness I have the luxury of nap time, I most certainly will be taking advantage of that today.

This morning I received an email from my good blogging friend Jennie directed me to a different site where she created a word picture using many of the supportive words I use so often in my posts. That is such a beautiful thing and I do thank you so much.

In her email one paragraph in particular really hit me:

“I always knew that words have great power to heal or to hurt. I may not have fully appreciated it until my exposure to verbal abuse. I’ll have to blog about this word power idea soon. Perhaps one positive result of my experience will be that I become more mindful of the impact of my words on others, and on myself for that matter.”

How many times have I heard or read that verbal (emotional) abuse can have a must longer and deeper impact on a person than even physical abuse. Physical scars and bruising heal much more quickly than emotional ones.

Emotional bruises and scarring take much longer to heal and can stay with a person for their entire life time. Not always but often this time of long term hurt is caused by words. Depending on where and who these words come from they can cut down inside to our very soul.

I would imagine most of us at one time or another have at least heard of this, the terrible power that can be contained within a few words. We know of how words can be just devastating, we realize that. We know that “mere” words can have such a devastatingly negative impact. I ask then wouldn’t it just stand to reason, if we look at the flip side of the coin, that “mere” words could have a wonderfully healthy healing power to them. If words can tear us down then obviously words can build us up in a healthy positive way.

I think if we really look at it, we will or at least I have realized how much quicker words of criticism can spring to mind as apposed to words of praise. I know this and actually do make a conscious effort to avoid using critical words and instead look for opportunities to lavish praise when warranted. Key words in that line were make an effort, sometimes in spite of my best efforts, oh well I will keep working at it.

With in each of us we hold a great healing power, with the power of our words. This can be applied to each and every relationship in our lives each and every day. By relationship naturally in mean spouse, kids, family and friends. But I am also referring to all relationships and interactions with people in our lives generally. Let’s take a waiter in a restaurant or a cashier in a supermarket. At certain times these people will very briefly enter our lives. But even if it is just for a few minutes, we enter into a very short term, very casual relationship with them. For those few minutes they do play an important part in our lives.

Let me give but 2 examples. Let’s stay with the waiter in the restaurant. We have all had occasions where we have had just exceptionally great service. He/she has gone out of their way to serve us, above and beyond what we would normally get. Generally, we do acknowledge that by leaving a little larger tip. Now I am sure that is appreciated but it is totally non personal. How much extra effort would it take us to just say a few words to the individual. Thank them for the wonderful service they gave you, voice your appreciation. How can we know what is going on in the life of another. Possibly that waiter/waitress is going through a really tough time in life and had to dig down deep within themselves to be able to give you the high quality service. Just a few words of recognition and appreciation may well be just what they need to hear to help get them through the day. There is really no way we can ever know. Really, what did it cost us to spend that extra 15 or 20 seconds to verbalize our appreciation of the service.

One more example from within our own families. I think or at least I hope we all know how wrong it would be to tell our children they are stupid or bad or any such thing. The long term affects of such comments can be devastating. We can be oh, so quick to recognize and verbalize our dissatisfaction on how our children are misbehaving. Are we as quick to jump in with a positive loving comment when they do behave. Now hear I am not talking about things like when your child comes home with an A on a report card. Or course we are proud and congratulate them on a job well done. But, I am talking here more of the regular day to day activities, in just our daily routine. I don’t know but I would guess that if the average parent had some way of actually keeping track of every comment made to their child in any given day would likely see the comments containing some sort of negative connotation far out number the positive. It seems to me anyway that particularly with our spouse, kids and other family. We take good for granted, that is what is expected and we never comment on it. Act in anyway other than what we consider to be good and the comments spew forth very quickly.

Why is it we seem to make a conscious effort at times to avoid making negative comments, biting our tongues or what ever? Why don’t we put at least that same amount of effort into looking for positive and healing messages.

Each and everyone of us has a great power within us. The power to help heal others through our words. We all have the words within, let’s get them out and start a whole lot of healing.

Jennie, I thank you for the email and for the wonderful message. You really have me thinking and I do thank you.

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6 Responses to Dying Man’s Daily Journal – Healing Power of words

  1. mspennylane says:

    I often think about the use of negative words in my everyday language – there are a lot of them! Not just to others but about myself too, I suppose. But the thing I worry about is joking in negative ways. Everyone gets called stupid or silly in a jokey way, and most people can take it, but I do wonder if, deep down, these jokes can also have a very harmful effect.

    I often tell my boyfriend how stupid he is, like when he purposely acts silly etc. Really he is a very clever person, and I tell him that too, but probably not as much as I tell him the opposite! He knows I’m joking but there must be subconscious effects of such language. I don’t think I am alone in this, everyone does it, which is why it is such a big effort to change: it is part of common everyday language and happens without thinking. It happens in comedy TV shows too – there is always a fool to make fun of.

    This is why I find your posts interesting, because you seem to be ahead of the game in that respect. Some people just find it harder to think before they speak. It has to be conscious and you say you make this conscious effort all the time – something that I am increasingly trying to do, too 🙂

    hi mspennylane you bring up some excellent points and I thank you. I do wonder as you mention it. If someone is always “fall guy” or takes the brunt of a lot of jokes in which they are made fun of or called stupid, what ever. Even if they know it is meant as a joke would it eventually hit them if even on a subconscious level of some sort. I am not a doctor or anything, but I would have to think it would over time, but really don’t know. Possibly someone more knowledgeable than I can leave a comment telling us the answer to this.
    I also think the negative thoughts we have about ourselves, verbalized or not have a deep negative impact.
    I appreciate the comment about me being ahead of the game as I am making an effort to think before I speak. I do make that effort but believe me the effort still seems to often come up short. I am working on it.

  2. Jo Hart says:

    Ah Bill, why is it when I need a butt kicking, you seem to know when I have been naughty and put a post on about it….. How is that ??
    OK I am fessing up. My 6 year old has been throwing the most outrageous tantrums when getting ready for school. It’s all rush rush rush, work lunches, school lunches getting ready etc. Anyway they are at a stage that my nerves feel completely frazelled when she starts and I feel like I could lock her in a cupboard for a week???? Nothing was working, patience, yelling, smack on the bum absolutely nothing, So as my frustration with her took hold yesterday I did threaten the adoption agency and pretended to ring them on the phone to come and pick her up !!!!! (VERY NEGATIVE)… Now this all took place yesterday mind you, so this morning, I could not have had a more perfect angel on my hands…… I obviously scared the living daylights out of her, so today she behaved for fear of being sent to the adoption agency…. Some might say cool, it worked, I was saying cool it worked, until I read Bill’s post today, and realised I didn’t praise her about being so well behaved…… I just took it for granted as that is how it is supposed to be. Looks like I need the adoption agency. Thanks Bill for making it all clear, I will most certainly be praising her when I get home tonight about how well behaved she was this morning getting ready for school…. Thanks again for putting lifes little oddities into perspective for us all.

    Hi Jo, isn’t it amazing how quick we are to notice and voice our displeasure over what we see as unacceptable behavior. While good or what we see as acceptable behavior so often doesn’t even seem to register on our mental radar. We just seem to take it for granted that, this is the way things are supposed to be and say nothing. Our kids are learning and developing. They learn and respond according to the feedback the get. I realized something as I was typing that last line. It doesn’t just apply to kids it applies to each and everyone of us. Irregardless of age we never stop learning and developing as we journey through life. Our thoughts and feelings develop largely do to the feed back we get.
    It all sounds so easy as I just write it. Hey, I have been there in the same situation as you. As much as we love them kids can most certainly be a strain on the patience.

  3. Gerald Wright says:

    I was browsing the internet looking for material for a talk I need to give to a group of seniors when I ran across your blog (if that’s the right name) I recently wrote the following for my neighbors.
    If you have time and if it’s not too long, it might interest you. Gerald W.
    STARTING OUT LATE

    Written especially for my neighbors

    in Niagara On The Lake

    By Gerald Wright

    When you’re 85 as I am, the thought can sometimes cross your mind that if there is anything you’d like to do before you leave this world, you’d better start doing it pretty soon.
    Because that thought did cross my mind I wrote this booklet and would like to dedicate it to all my neighbors in Niagara On The Lake.

    Before my spaceship lifts off into the vast space of eternity, I would like to know I had at least tried to make this planet a better place than when I landed on it.
    Sometimes expressing a wish like that seems a bit like rushing into the World Trade Centre with a hand-held fire extinguisher 10 minutes before its collapse, hoping to put out the fire..
    I didn’t just get this urge to improve the world now at age 85. I think it’s been there for a long time. When I turned 18, Canada and our allies were fighting Nazism. This was before North Africa or Sicily and a whole year before D-Day.
    The only Canadians dying every night right then, were doing so in burning and crashing aircraft. I thought back then I could help make the world a better place by joining those bomber crews, so that’s what I did. In retrospect, I don’t think it made the world a lot better, but it seemed to help for a while.

    Not everyone agrees of course, as to what “a better world” would look like, so I need to explain what I mean when I use that expression. In a better world as I understand those words, anyone would be able to go for a walk on any city street at any time of day or night without fear of being shot, knifed, robbed, kidnapped or raped.
    When a man or woman left for work in the morning, their spouse would not have to worry that their mate was falling in love or having an affair with a colleague, or anyone else, at work.
    Children would never have to come home from school and find that they no longer had a dad or a mother to whom they could confide their problems and get comfort, encouragement or help.
    Anyone who was willing or able to work would have a job and earn enough to live and help support his or her family on at least a modest scale.
    Neither benevolent employers nor conscientious employees would be creatures you only read about in a fiction story.
    If a person lost or unintentionally left his or her wallet somewhere, having it returned with its contents intact would not be such a rare occurrence that the story would make headlines in the paper or the lead story on TV news.
    You might be getting curious as to how an 85-year-old man who can’t even walk any distance without a walker, can have any clue as to how to make the world a better place, let alone how to pass such a clue on to others.
    The clue lies in the story of something that began away back in my childhood. My landing on Planet Earth happened on a farm in Simcoe county, Ontario on June 5, 1925. Two and a half years later our family moved to the town of St.Marys, Ontario, whose population then hovered around 4,000.
    My parents undoubtedly did the best they could for us children, but the difficulties surrounding the financial crisis of the 1930’s caused our family to become what a modern psychologist would probably call “dysfunctional”.
    However that may be, I reached the age of 10 with the feeling – Maybe only a subconscious one – that my father would have been just as happy if I had never been born. In retrospect, I am sure this rejection if it was that, was quite unconscious on his part and traced back to certain events from his own childhood or youth.

    This sense of rejection helped make me into an unusually timid kid. In addition, I seem to have been born with one side of my body – arm, leg, hand and feet, slightly smaller than the other side, so that in my earliest school years I began to walk with a noticeable limp.
    This natural timidity coupled with my limp made me an easy prey for bullies three or four years older than I, of which our neighborhood had a fair share.
    Because my parents seemed unable or unwilling to protect me against them, these oversized cowards soon learned that they could torture me without fear of punishment.
    Whatever problems they had, and they seemed to have lots, they took out on me. The walk to and from school twice a day because we came home for lunch, a distance of about a kilometer became something I would do anything to avoid. I often walked most of the way to school with my arm twisted behind my back till I cried with pain, and with threats of more to come if I told a soul.
    I started grasping at any straw of an excuse to escape from my torturers.
    I pretended to be sick with any kind of illness that sounded believable. I would rather have told a thousand lies than face one more day of torture.
    In retrospect I think all this trauma aroused a subconscious resentment against my parents for their failure to protect me from the bullies, and in turn that caused a subconscious feeling of guilt because I had been taught from the time I could understand English, that kids should “honour their parents.”
    This unbearable combination of circumstances brought me in 1935 to what most psychologists today would recognize as a total emotional breakdown.
    Neither my parents nor the school authorities could force me to go to school and consequently I spent the 1935-36 school year at home. I spent my time wandering the nearby bush and fields and along the banks of the creek that ran through the valley where we lived.. I thought a lot about the meaning of life, about why I was born, and why I had to suffer so much misery.

    As the following school year approached, my parents started getting concerned about my future education. In a fit of desperation, my mother summoned up all her courage and wrote to Dr. David Robertson, medical superintendent of Toronto’s Hospital For Sick Children.
    She might never have thought of him had he not become nationally and internationally known earlier that year after he and another man survived being buried alive for 16 days in a collapsed Nova Scotia gold mine, of which he was part owner.
    Perhaps his own narrow brush with death had made him more sensitive to people in need. Whatever the case he replied that my mother should bring me to the hospital.
    Sometime about the middle of August, 1936, I found myself in the Sick Children’s Hospital, then located on College Street in Toronto. For the first time in my life I found myself separated from everyone and everything I had ever known.
    I know I acted pretty badly. I pouted, cried and made life miserable for the nurses. I stuck by my manufactured stories of illness, all the time haunted by the gnawing fear that I might have to go back and face the bullies again.
    A couple of days after my arrival, a psychiatrist named Dr.Hawke who later became quite famous, came in to talk to me. He saw through my charade in no time at all, but he never did discover its real causes. He left me feeling more frightened and intimidated than ever.
    To add to my misery, a nurse, possibly one in training who was practising her newly-learned skills, gave me an injection in the hip for scarlet fever. Maybe she gave it the wrong way, but for whatever reason, my hip began to swell up and it got so I could not turn even slightly in the bed without a lot of pain.
    My combined misery seemed to reach a crisis level one very hot August night. The circumstances of that night I can feel and visualize right to this day.
    The summer of 1936 set something of a heat record for Ontario I think, and the city pavement reflected the heat. Air conditioning was still a thing of the future, and the windows facing onto College Street were all wide open to try and let in a bit of air.
    A large neon-lighted sign advertising Chateau Cheese cast its reflected yellow and purple-colored light onto the white-painted ceiling and walls of the hospital ward.
    The noise from the old-fashioned streetcars jangling by on the street out front, flooded into the room which housed about 10 or 12 of us boys, some of them seriously ill.
    All the other boys in the room had dropped off to sleep, but my tortured mind would not allow me to sleep.
    A bit over a year before that, my parents had left the large church in my hometown where they and their parents before them had always attended. They had begun to attend a small mission up above a restaurant in the town’s business section, and of course took us kids along with them.
    The people in that mission seemed to believe that the Bible was really true and that it was important whether people believed it or not. That didn’t do much to relieve the guilt I already felt over my lying and the resentment I felt toward my parents.
    I had always had an ear for poetry and language so one of the meetings to which our parents dragged us, had left a strong impression on my mind. A certain evangelist had this particular bit of poetry in the form of a hymn or song to close one of those meetings. Probably because the words spoke about suffering, a concept I fully understood, they engraved themselves on my mind.
    Now in my black night of despair in the hospital I remembered them, and I remember them still. They go like this –

    When I survey the wondrous cross,
    On which the Prince of Glory died,
    My richest gain I count but loss,
    And pour contempt on all my pride.

    In those days projectors were called “magic lanterns”. At least in my world they were. The evangelist who used the hymn I remembered, also used one of these magic lanterns to project a picture, just a painting no doubt, onto a screen which in that mission would just have been a white bed sheet fastened to the wall.
    On that screen he had shown (in order to accompany the song) a picture of the crucified Christ hanging on a cross. As the words of the song came back to me, so did the picture on the wall.
    Probably because I had tried everything else and nothing had helped, in my misery I decided for the first time in my life, to try and pray. Of course I had repeated prayers before, in the same way that a parrot or a robot would repeat something it was taught. But they had never had any meaning for me.
    This prayer was different, I cried out to God with all the sincerity I could muster. I told him how miserable I was. I confessed lying to my parents and hating them for not protecting me from the bullies.
    In my mind the remembered face of the crucified Christ seem to smile at me with a smile of love, forgiveness, sympathy and comfort.
    I have had some people suggest when I told them this story, that what I remember was just the over-excited imagination of a child, a sort of emotional dream. I can’t go along with that though, because no imagination on earth can change someone’s life the way that experience changed mine.
    Within the space of a few minutes, an immense feeling of peace flooded my consciousness and I dropped off to sleep as I might have done had I been a baby. When I woke up in the morning, the whole world seemed to have changed.
    The nurses who had seemed so unsympathetic and witch-like just the day before, now seemed, if not angelic, at least good-natured and kind-hearted. Before long I realized of course that it was not the world, but I who had changed.
    I was released a few days later and came home so inwardly changed that I soon had a lot of new friends who joined me in fighting off the bullies. Two of those friends, brothers whose parents had shortly before immigrated from Scotland and moved into our neighborhood, taught me a lot about self-defence and together we put a long-lasting scare into the guys who had so recently made my life miserable.
    Those two brothers became my life-long heroes and I attended the last of their funerals only a few weeks before writing this booklet.
    Probably the biggest single reason that people – especially men – reject true-life conversion stories such as mine, as being anything which could change the world, is the widely-publicized hypocrisy of so many professing Christian believers.
    Where, they ask, is the power of God in the life of a minister, pastor, priest or just a Christian layman who gets hooked on pornography, cheats on his wife with some chick in the office or at work, or leaves his wife and family to run off with some woman in his congregation?
    Where is the power of God in the life of a trusted treasurer who professes to be a born-again Christian, and flies off to South America or Mexico with
    a brief case full of his company’s money?
    These are good, honest questions and they deserve good, honest answers. One answer I believe is that people who have had a “conversion” experience like mine can sometimes begin to believe that they are somehow beyond having ordinary human weaknesses.
    The truth is that some of the Bible’s greatest heroes – Moses, David, Solomon, Peter and Paul had a lot of human weaknesses. The reason they became such folk heroes that their names got recorded for posterity is because they knew that without the code of values set out in the Old and New Testaments, humanity would perish under the weight of its own wickedness and folly.
    What is more important though, is that they knew that apart from the supernatural power of God, neither they nor any other human being had the strength to live up to that code.
    That’s why, when they slipped off the edge, they lost no time in repenting and asking God for help to straighten out their lives.
    So the question naturally arises, if I am so sure of all this, how come that all these philandering pastors, pedophile priests and thieving “Christian” treasurers don’t know it?
    My experience leads me to believe that the professional pride of many orthodox Christians won’t allow them to believe that agnostic behavioral scientists have anything to teach them.
    The reverse is also true. Many scientists have written God off because to believe in his existence would be to admit that something which cannot be scientifically explained, can still exist or can still happen.
    Anyone, believer or unbeliever, who studies the subject a bit knows that behavioral science has demonstrated beyond the possibility of successful refutation that people who live through traumatic experiences in their childhood, things like parental rejection, peer rejection, severe bullying, sexual, physical or verbal abuse, invariably emerge into adulthood carrying an addictive root.
    That means that regardless of having a genuine conversion experience such as mine, they will of necessity live all their lives with a compulsion to medicate the emotional pain of their dysfunctional childhood.
    In our “liberated” culture, the three most common ways people do that are through alcohol, drugs or sex. What does that do to people like me who have experienced both the power of God to change their lives and the compulsive tug of these temptations?
    What it does is to force me to remember that the only way I can survive in the prevalent social culture around me, is to find other believers who understand the situation well enough to reach out to their neighbors with:
    1) The liberating message that God is still able to change lives just as he changed mine away back in 1936 and:
    2) That they cannot survive as believers who practise what they preach unless they make themselves constantly accountable for their behavior to others who share the same faith.
    What does all this do to make the world a better place? It does nothing at all unless enough people get honest enough to admit they need God in their lives and start calling on his power to help them follow his behavioral guidelines which are laid out in what for me has become the most important book ever written, the Bible.
    If anything I have written here has piqued your curiosity or has raised any unanswered questions in you mind, or if I can clarify anything for you, I can be reached by phone at 905-468-9357 or by e-mail at gwright36@cogeco.ca
    You might not want to wait too long though. I’m already 85 and I wasn’t born with any long-life guarantee. Gerald Wright.

  4. Gerald Wright says:

    STARTING OUT LATE

    Written especially for my neighbors

    in Niagara On The Lake

    By Gerald Wright

    When you’re 85 as I am, the thought can sometimes cross your mind that if there is anything you’d like to do before you leave this world, you’d better start doing it pretty soon.
    Because that thought did cross my mind I wrote this booklet and would like to dedicate it to all my neighbors in Niagara On The Lake.

    Before my spaceship lifts off into the vast space of eternity, I would like to know I had at least tried to make this planet a better place than when I landed on it.
    Sometimes expressing a wish like that seems a bit like rushing into the World Trade Centre with a hand-held fire extinguisher 10 minutes before its collapse, hoping to put out the fire..
    I didn’t just get this urge to improve the world now at age 85. I think it’s been there for a long time. When I turned 18, Canada and our allies were fighting Nazism. This was before North Africa or Sicily and a whole year before D-Day.
    The only Canadians dying every night right then, were doing so in burning and crashing aircraft. I thought back then I could help make the world a better place by joining those bomber crews, so that’s what I did. In retrospect, I don’t think it made the world a lot better, but it seemed to help for a while.

    Not everyone agrees of course, as to what “a better world” would look like, so I need to explain what I mean when I use that expression. In a better world as I understand those words, anyone would be able to go for a walk on any city street at any time of day or night without fear of being shot, knifed, robbed, kidnapped or raped.
    When a man or woman left for work in the morning, their spouse would not have to worry that their mate was falling in love or having an affair with a colleague, or anyone else, at work.
    Children would never have to come home from school and find that they no longer had a dad or a mother to whom they could confide their problems and get comfort, encouragement or help.
    Anyone who was willing or able to work would have a job and earn enough to live and help support his or her family on at least a modest scale.
    Neither benevolent employers nor conscientious employees would be creatures you only read about in a fiction story.
    If a person lost or unintentionally left his or her wallet somewhere, having it returned with its contents intact would not be such a rare occurrence that the story would make headlines in the paper or the lead story on TV news.
    You might be getting curious as to how an 85-year-old man who can’t even walk any distance without a walker, can have any clue as to how to make the world a better place, let alone how to pass such a clue on to others.
    The clue lies in the story of something that began away back in my childhood. My landing on Planet Earth happened on a farm in Simcoe county, Ontario on June 5, 1925. Two and a half years later our family moved to the town of St.Marys, Ontario, whose population then hovered around 4,000.
    My parents undoubtedly did the best they could for us children, but the difficulties surrounding the financial crisis of the 1930’s caused our family to become what a modern psychologist would probably call “dysfunctional”.
    However that may be, I reached the age of 10 with the feeling – Maybe only a subconscious one – that my father would have been just as happy if I had never been born. In retrospect, I am sure this rejection if it was that, was quite unconscious on his part and traced back to certain events from his own childhood or youth.

    This sense of rejection helped make me into an unusually timid kid. In addition, I seem to have been born with one side of my body – arm, leg, hand and feet, slightly smaller than the other side, so that in my earliest school years I began to walk with a noticeable limp.
    This natural timidity coupled with my limp made me an easy prey for bullies three or four years older than I, of which our neighborhood had a fair share.
    Because my parents seemed unable or unwilling to protect me against them, these oversized cowards soon learned that they could torture me without fear of punishment.
    Whatever problems they had, and they seemed to have lots, they took out on me. The walk to and from school twice a day because we came home for lunch, a distance of about a kilometer became something I would do anything to avoid. I often walked most of the way to school with my arm twisted behind my back till I cried with pain, and with threats of more to come if I told a soul.
    I started grasping at any straw of an excuse to escape from my torturers.
    I pretended to be sick with any kind of illness that sounded believable. I would rather have told a thousand lies than face one more day of torture.
    In retrospect I think all this trauma aroused a subconscious resentment against my parents for their failure to protect me from the bullies, and in turn that caused a subconscious feeling of guilt because I had been taught from the time I could understand English, that kids should “honour their parents.”
    This unbearable combination of circumstances brought me in 1935 to what most psychologists today would recognize as a total emotional breakdown.
    Neither my parents nor the school authorities could force me to go to school and consequently I spent the 1935-36 school year at home. I spent my time wandering the nearby bush and fields and along the banks of the creek that ran through the valley where we lived.. I thought a lot about the meaning of life, about why I was born, and why I had to suffer so much misery.

    As the following school year approached, my parents started getting concerned about my future education. In a fit of desperation, my mother summoned up all her courage and wrote to Dr. David Robertson, medical superintendent of Toronto’s Hospital For Sick Children.
    She might never have thought of him had he not become nationally and internationally known earlier that year after he and another man survived being buried alive for 16 days in a collapsed Nova Scotia gold mine, of which he was part owner.
    Perhaps his own narrow brush with death had made him more sensitive to people in need. Whatever the case he replied that my mother should bring me to the hospital.
    Sometime about the middle of August, 1936, I found myself in the Sick Children’s Hospital, then located on College Street in Toronto. For the first time in my life I found myself separated from everyone and everything I had ever known.
    I know I acted pretty badly. I pouted, cried and made life miserable for the nurses. I stuck by my manufactured stories of illness, all the time haunted by the gnawing fear that I might have to go back and face the bullies again.
    A couple of days after my arrival, a psychiatrist named Dr.Hawke who later became quite famous, came in to talk to me. He saw through my charade in no time at all, but he never did discover its real causes. He left me feeling more frightened and intimidated than ever.
    To add to my misery, a nurse, possibly one in training who was practising her newly-learned skills, gave me an injection in the hip for scarlet fever. Maybe she gave it the wrong way, but for whatever reason, my hip began to swell up and it got so I could not turn even slightly in the bed without a lot of pain.
    My combined misery seemed to reach a crisis level one very hot August night. The circumstances of that night I can feel and visualize right to this day.
    The summer of 1936 set something of a heat record for Ontario I think, and the city pavement reflected the heat. Air conditioning was still a thing of the future, and the windows facing onto College Street were all wide open to try and let in a bit of air.
    A large neon-lighted sign advertising Chateau Cheese cast its reflected yellow and purple-colored light onto the white-painted ceiling and walls of the hospital ward.
    The noise from the old-fashioned streetcars jangling by on the street out front, flooded into the room which housed about 10 or 12 of us boys, some of them seriously ill.
    All the other boys in the room had dropped off to sleep, but my tortured mind would not allow me to sleep.
    A bit over a year before that, my parents had left the large church in my hometown where they and their parents before them had always attended. They had begun to attend a small mission up above a restaurant in the town’s business section, and of course took us kids along with them.
    The people in that mission seemed to believe that the Bible was really true and that it was important whether people believed it or not. That didn’t do much to relieve the guilt I already felt over my lying and the resentment I felt toward my parents.
    I had always had an ear for poetry and language so one of the meetings to which our parents dragged us, had left a strong impression on my mind. A certain evangelist had this particular bit of poetry in the form of a hymn or song to close one of those meetings. Probably because the words spoke about suffering, a concept I fully understood, they engraved themselves on my mind.
    Now in my black night of despair in the hospital I remembered them, and I remember them still. They go like this –

    When I survey the wondrous cross,
    On which the Prince of Glory died,
    My richest gain I count but loss,
    And pour contempt on all my pride.

    In those days projectors were called “magic lanterns”. At least in my world they were. The evangelist who used the hymn I remembered, also used one of these magic lanterns to project a picture, just a painting no doubt, onto a screen which in that mission would just have been a white bed sheet fastened to the wall.
    On that screen he had shown (in order to accompany the song) a picture of the crucified Christ hanging on a cross. As the words of the song came back to me, so did the picture on the wall.
    Probably because I had tried everything else and nothing had helped, in my misery I decided for the first time in my life, to try and pray. Of course I had repeated prayers before, in the same way that a parrot or a robot would repeat something it was taught. But they had never had any meaning for me.
    This prayer was different, I cried out to God with all the sincerity I could muster. I told him how miserable I was. I confessed lying to my parents and hating them for not protecting me from the bullies.
    In my mind the remembered face of the crucified Christ seem to smile at me with a smile of love, forgiveness, sympathy and comfort.
    I have had some people suggest when I told them this story, that what I remember was just the over-excited imagination of a child, a sort of emotional dream. I can’t go along with that though, because no imagination on earth can change someone’s life the way that experience changed mine.
    Within the space of a few minutes, an immense feeling of peace flooded my consciousness and I dropped off to sleep as I might have done had I been a baby. When I woke up in the morning, the whole world seemed to have changed.
    The nurses who had seemed so unsympathetic and witch-like just the day before, now seemed, if not angelic, at least good-natured and kind-hearted. Before long I realized of course that it was not the world, but I who had changed.
    I was released a few days later and came home so inwardly changed that I soon had a lot of new friends who joined me in fighting off the bullies. Two of those friends, brothers whose parents had shortly before immigrated from Scotland and moved into our neighborhood, taught me a lot about self-defence and together we put a long-lasting scare into the guys who had so recently made my life miserable.
    Those two brothers became my life-long heroes and I attended the last of their funerals only a few weeks before writing this booklet.
    Probably the biggest single reason that people – especially men – reject true-life conversion stories such as mine, as being anything which could change the world, is the widely-publicized hypocrisy of so many professing Christian believers.
    Where, they ask, is the power of God in the life of a minister, pastor, priest or just a Christian layman who gets hooked on pornography, cheats on his wife with some chick in the office or at work, or leaves his wife and family to run off with some woman in his congregation?
    Where is the power of God in the life of a trusted treasurer who professes to be a born-again Christian, and flies off to South America or Mexico with
    a brief case full of his company’s money?
    These are good, honest questions and they deserve good, honest answers. One answer I believe is that people who have had a “conversion” experience like mine can sometimes begin to believe that they are somehow beyond having ordinary human weaknesses.
    The truth is that some of the Bible’s greatest heroes – Moses, David, Solomon, Peter and Paul had a lot of human weaknesses. The reason they became such folk heroes that their names got recorded for posterity is because they knew that without the code of values set out in the Old and New Testaments, humanity would perish under the weight of its own wickedness and folly.
    What is more important though, is that they knew that apart from the supernatural power of God, neither they nor any other human being had the strength to live up to that code.
    That’s why, when they slipped off the edge, they lost no time in repenting and asking God for help to straighten out their lives.
    So the question naturally arises, if I am so sure of all this, how come that all these philandering pastors, pedophile priests and thieving “Christian” treasurers don’t know it?
    My experience leads me to believe that the professional pride of many orthodox Christians won’t allow them to believe that agnostic behavioral scientists have anything to teach them.
    The reverse is also true. Many scientists have written God off because to believe in his existence would be to admit that something which cannot be scientifically explained, can still exist or can still happen.
    Anyone, believer or unbeliever, who studies the subject a bit knows that behavioral science has demonstrated beyond the possibility of successful refutation that people who live through traumatic experiences in their childhood, things like parental rejection, peer rejection, severe bullying, sexual, physical or verbal abuse, invariably emerge into adulthood carrying an addictive root.
    That means that regardless of having a genuine conversion experience such as mine, they will of necessity live all their lives with a compulsion to medicate the emotional pain of their dysfunctional childhood.
    In our “liberated” culture, the three most common ways people do that are through alcohol, drugs or sex. What does that do to people like me who have experienced both the power of God to change their lives and the compulsive tug of these temptations?
    What it does is to force me to remember that the only way I can survive in the prevalent social culture around me, is to find other believers who understand the situation well enough to reach out to their neighbors with:
    1) The liberating message that God is still able to change lives just as he changed mine away back in 1936 and:
    2) That they cannot survive as believers who practise what they preach unless they make themselves constantly accountable for their behavior to others who share the same faith.
    What does all this do to make the world a better place? It does nothing at all unless enough people get honest enough to admit they need God in their lives and start calling on his power to help them follow his behavioral guidelines which are laid out in what for me has become the most important book ever written, the Bible.
    If anything I have written here has piqued your curiosity or has raised any unanswered questions in you mind, or if I can clarify anything for you, I can be reached by phone at 905-468-9357 or by e-mail at gwright36@cogeco.ca
    You might not want to wait too long though. I’m already 85 and I wasn’t born with any long-life guarantee. Gerald Wright.

  5. Mira Kardak says:

    Hello,

    I was just looking around on the internet and I stumbled into this. Thank you for writing this, because it’s made me think about a lot of things in my life. I’m 15 only, and I know I can be very unkind to my family and even friends, but I’m starting to understand the power of words and figure out what boundries I want to set in terms of how I treat myself and my family with use of words. This was really interesting, so thank you. Also, if you’re very interested in the power of words and healing, there is a book I’m reading called “The Hidden Messages in Water” by Masaru Emoto. It talks about experiments where music is played, or words are said to water, and when the water freezes and makes crystals, the music and words affect them. The picture of the crystal from the words love and gratitude is especially stunning. So I hope you enjoy your discovery of the power of words, and thank you again.

    -Mira

  6. Pete says:

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    I love the knowledge you present here and can’t wait to take
    a look when I get home. I’m amazed at how quick your blog
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