Our relation by marriage the Australian novelist Mary Grant Bruce (1878–1958) was the second daughter and fourth child of Eyre Lewis Bruce of Miegunyah, Traralgon, and Mary (Minnie) Atkinson, the daughter in turn of William and Louisa Whittakers, Welsh pioneers of the Monaro district of New South Wales. Mr. Bruce was a surveyor who migrated to Victoria from Co. Cork in 1854; settled near Sale in East Gippsland ten years later, and surveyed Bruce Road, his only monument, which still skirts the Colquhuon State Forest, commencing at a point on the Princes’ Highway that is roughly half way between Swan Reach and Kalimna West, and leads most of the way north to the neighborhood of Tambo Upper.
The Bruces of East Gippsland were closely bound by marriage my mother’s Borthwick, Pearson, and Gooch families. Two of my great-grandmother [Emily] Sophie Pearson’s younger Gooch siblings of The Fulham near Sale each married a different one of Mary Grant Bruce’s: Frank Gooch married Emily Bruce, while Sophie and Frank’s adored youngest sister Mollie married Maxwell Bruce (Max). Much earlier, in the 1880s, Sophie Pearson’s sister Kate Gooch married William Pearson’s brother Jack, and by this neat and not particularly unusual Victorian stratagem the children of all three families were provided with many cousins, a deep devotion to each other, and a powerful attachment to the region of East Gippsland where they all grew up.
In 1914, Mary Grant Bruce married her distant Anglo-Irish cousin, Major George Evans Bruce, to whom in London she introduced the whole Pearson family.
Beyond these immediate family connections, like the Pearsons, the Bruces were lifelong friends and neighbors of the Borthwick family of Sale and nearby Bald Hills, and shortly after the end of World War I, the Pearsons’ eldest daughter Helen, my grandmother, married William Borthwick. Throughout the extended periods they spent living abroad, George and Mary Grant Bruce corresponded with great-grandmother Ada Borthwick and her daughters, my grandfather’s sisters Jean and Kathleen Borthwick. During the bleak period of crisis that followed the death in a shooting accident in Northern Ireland of the Bruces’ younger son Patrick (Pat), Mary’s affectionate correspondence with Mrs. Borthwick turned more and more toward breathing exercises, thought-power, table-rapping, and spiritualism. The letters, several of them immensely long, are interesting for many reasons, but mainly because they shed such penetrating beams of light on the tight-knit Gippsland circle from which so much of the granular detail of the Billabong novels was liberally harvested.
The original correspondence will in due course go, together with the rest of the Trumble family papers, to the National Library of Australia in Canberra. But in the meantime here are transcriptions of the six long letters from Mary Grant Bruce:
I. Mary Grant Bruce to Ada Borthwick. The sorrow piled on sorrow to which Bruce refers were the death on active duty of two of Ada and William Borthwick’s five sons, John Malcolm at Aden in 1908, and Keith in the Battle of the Nek at Gallipoli in 1915.
Drumcrinna,OmaghCo. TyroneN. IrelandNovember 30th /29My dear old friend,
I knew I should hear from you quickly. You have long been my standard of courage under a blow—and even at first, when we were crushed under our agony, I kept remembering you and thinking how gallantly you had always kept up your head, with sorrow piled on sorrow. Having known your courage helps me to carry on, as we must do, for Jon—and because Pat would so hate us to be unhappy. His love was so wonderful—a baby’s, even with his twelve years, and yet not like a child’s in the way he tried to care for me and shield me. He couldn’t bear me to be tired or worried. I keep remembering how he would take off my shoes and put on my slippers, and kiss each foot as he did it, my little loving son—the brain of a man in many ways, but always the loving heart of a baby. It doesn’t seem possible that he is gone.You will have heard about it from Max or Janie. Thank God, there was no suffering for him—his dear face was quite peaceful. Just “I’m sorry”—and he knew we were doing all we could, and looked at us with such love—and then went to sleep with his cheek against mine like a tired baby. It might have been so infinitely more cruel for him. For us there are memories that can never lose their horror, but thank God, they were ours alone—and the great mercy was that Jon was away. He is so brave and steady—carrying on well at school and doing his very best for us. His housemaster wrote, “His quiet, manly courage, his complete thought for you and his mother, have won all our admiration and respect.” But it is so hard for him, for their mutual love was a beautiful thing. They were so unlike, but each thought the other the most wonderful boy in the world. Did anyone tell you how the shock was eased for Jon? We were sick with anxiety for its effect on him, knowing he must hear it from strangers—he is in his first term at Repton, in Derbyshire. But on the two nights before the accident he dreamed that Pat was dead. He said, “I kept thinking of it, and it was like a cloud over me, and when Mr. Hooton sent for me I knew what he was going to say.”I know all is well with my darling. I never think of him “at rest”—I believe that he has gone on to work, the work for which his splendid brain and beautiful spirit were made. Do you know Kingsley’s words—“The best reward for having wrought well on earth is to have more to do; and he that has been faithful over a few things, he shall find his reward in being made ruler over many things. That is the true and heroical rest, which only is worthy of gentlemen and sons of God.” [Charles Kingsley, Westward Ho! Or, The Voyages and Adventures of Sir Amyas Leigh, Knight… (Cambridge: Macmillan, 1855), p. 213.] I believe they don’t go so very far—that they work up from plane to plane until they are worthy to stand in His Presence. And there are so many who have crossed over who would love him and guide his little feet—he won’t be lonely.But the loneliness without him! He had been at home 2½ months, because he had had appendicitis—and his happiness, his joy of being alive, were beyond expression. I never knew anyone who played the fool so divinely—I think we laughed all the time. It was like having the spirit of sunshine in the house. And I was still shivering with thankfulness at having got him safely through the operation, and each hour was precious to me, from the moment he came dashing in to my bed in the morning until I tucked him up at night. Well, I have my memories—and I shall have my baby always in my heart.I loved the poem you sent, and will keep it always: it must be doubly precious to you in your dear boy’s writing. I wonder if they have rest. The Spiritualists believe that the young soldiers act as Guides to help the new spirits who go over and I think it a lovely thing to feel.My best love to you, dear old friend.Yours ever affectionately,M. G. Bruce
II. Mary Grant Bruce to Ada Borthwick
RobinswoodDorset RoadBexhill-on-SeaSussex28th Oct. /33.Dearest Mrs. Borthwick,It isn’t often I get the chance of answering a letter “all hot from the oven”—but your lovely letter have just come in on a cold grey evening, and it—and your flowers—brought Australia so vividly to me that I just cast everything I ought to be doing to the winds, and here goes. The flowers were wonderfully fresh. The heath, flat as flat, but perfectly coloured, looks as though it were painted on a sheet of paper. It was lovely to hear from you—every bit of the news of old Sale friends so good to hear. Give my love to them all—and when you see Winnie, tell her I’d love a letter. I am so glad she is still with the Baileys. Torchie [Gooch] was with us for 3 weeks—a fine boy—He and Jon twin-souled completely—scurried all over the country on bicycles and made Robinswood a gay place. I loved having him—and he understood my Gippsland-hunger and let himself be pumped about everyone and everything. He is now in the North, in a wee car—spent a Sunday with Jon at Repton, and means to go to see him again. He sails on Nov. 11th. I’m afraid I won’t see him again. George spent a day with him in London, showing him “sights.” My Jon is large and very strong. 5 ft. 10 in bare feet, with a mighty chest—nothing left of the delicate little lad he used to be, thank God. And the very best of loving sons. Everyone seems to like him—he has such a kind heart. We are great mates. He is to go to one of the big Agricultural Colleges next year—is now in his last year at Repton—was lately given a House Exhibition of £25, given not for scholarship but for character and good influence. He has a strong turn for science, and I hope he will develop that at the Agric.l College; where the scientific side is very strong. George and I are always well, in fact, people say we grow younger. We are hard hit financially, like most people, but it doesn’t trouble us and I never regret that Jon has to grow up knowing that money isn’t necessary for happiness. We are all very interested in the modern study of thought-power, and apply it to all our daily life, including the control of our bodies—and we have now no ailments. We used to have so many, but in the last 3½ years have had only one apiece—a slight cold. We deep breathe regularly, with thought: thinking we take in strength, hold it into our whole being, and expel weakness: it has an amazing effect in producing the sound body and the happy mind.It’s most interesting to be alive now, and to see all these mental developments growing—everywhere people are studying psychology, healing by mental methods, using the creative power of thought in all matters. They say the “Age of Mind” is opening, and certainly youth is thinking as it never thought before. Christian Science always had a lot of this truth, though, I think, overlaid with too much Mary Baker Eddy! I don’t hold with them that pain and illness don’t exist, but I know they can be largely avoided by thought: and the more one dwells on good, the more good comes to one. Which Paul expressed in “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are good, whatsoever things are lovely…of good report…if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, THINK ON THESE THINGS.” [Philippians 4:8.]It was queer—if such things are queer—that I had been thinking of you a great deal lately. But that so often happens—one thinks strongly of a person, and then one meets them, or have a letter. We’re all wireless-sets. Mother and I used to exchange thought constantly—and I think—I know—we do so still. She and Father often seem so near, especially when I need a bit of extra help over anything. As for Pat—well, his nearness is often a very real thing. I don’t see any reason why it should not be. We know there are “messengers given charge concerning us, to keep us in all our ways” [Luke 4: 10.]—and why should they not be those who love us best?A few months after Pat went I met in London a delightful elderly Scotswoman; we met at the Club, introduced by a mutual acquaintance who knew very little about me. We liked each other, she found that I was keen on old houses, and asked me to come and see hers in Chelsea. I went, and as we were sitting talking after tea, I noticed that her eyes strayed past me several times. Presently she said, “Mrs. Bruce, I hope you won’t mind if I say something—I’m like many Highlanders, I have “the sight,” and so had my mother before me—and I see someone so plainly near you that I feel I must tell you.” I said “Yes?” very bewildered. “He has been standing very near you for some minutes—a boy about 12, with such a rosy, happy face, and a sweep of golden hair across a splendid brow”—and she went on to describe Pat minutely, every detail correct. “He’s so happy that I see him, and you know—he is putting his arm round your shoulders and smiling at you in such a protective way.”There are so many who have similar experiences. This was especially striking, as she knew nothing about me and my loss—I have never worn mourning, which we all detest, and our meeting and our talk had been quite impersonal. It gave me a comfort I cannot explain—something of “the Peace that passeth all understanding.” [Philippians 4:7.] I knew Pat was there, with a deep, inner knowing—knew he was alive and busy and working somewhere “about his Father’s business,” [Luke 2:49] but “still living, still loving, still mine”—able to be near his dearests sometimes,--perhaps as a part of that “business.” I have never lost the feeling: it grows and deepens. I know he’s not with me always—I wouldn’t want to hold him there, and keep him from his job. But sometimes I have a sudden wave of knowledge that he is beside me—as if I could almost touch him: and always there comes that great wave of happiness. We keep with him step by step in that otherwhere—we’ve just kept his 16th birthday happily. As for thinking of him as “dead,” that seems to us merely silly!There is a tremendous drive of interest in the future life and the matter of survival. Wherever you go you hear it talked about. In this age of empty churches the one thing that will fill a church to the doors is the announcement of a sermon on the future life; and psychic investigation on scientific and religious lines is spreading by leaps and bounds. One development that is very marked is the spread of spiritual healing, due to the Spiritualist bodies—there is scarcely a little town in England that is without its “healing circle,” and in every private asylum there are Spiritualists “casting out devils,” and restoring people just as the Master did. There is, of course, a fearful lot that is cheap and fraudulent about so-called Spiritualism, but there is also a steadily growing side that claims to have received teaching from the Other Side that has made life a new thing—and these people are living a life of love and service because of it. One constantly hears sermons on the wireless about it, and in London there is a body of clergymen, over 200 strong, who are steadily investigation psychic matters. Some of the most prominent Presbyterian divines have openly declared their belief in psychic “communications.” This tremendous “drive,” which has steadily increased since the first year of the War, makes one think. I had a complete scorn for the whole thing four years ago. But now I wonder if the strength of this wave of pressure from the Other Side is not a counter-blast to another wave almost as strong—the denial of God. Look at it in Russia: look at it wherever the Communist element is strong. It isn’t only in the Communist “Sunday schools,” where children are deliberately taught to jeer at God: it is in the educated classes, led by such men as Julius Huxley [sic] and Bernard Shaw. A professor at the London University put two questions 2 years ago to a class of about 30 undergraduates: 1. “Do you believe in the existence of God?” With about 4 exceptions the answer was a flat “No.” Last year there was a series of Sunday talks on “The Future Life” by well-known men—they say never was a series more keenly listened to, more provocative of letters on both sides. There were 12 talks, and 6 of the speakers argued brilliantly against any existence after death. It is the same in the schools: Jon says many fellows at Repton, fine fellows too, have no belief in God or a future. The Churches cannot hold the young. And the young are “seeking”: the wave of riot and indiscipline that followed the War is being succeeded by a desire for something fine to hold to. They are getting together in groups, talking things out. The Oxford Group movement is a sign of the times: apart from it there are innumerable “Conferences of Youth” meeting to discuss problems of life and mind. Jon went to one in the holidays—70 or 80 young people, from 17–30, who spent a week-end discussing modern problems. A boy of 18 couldn’t have done that in my youth without being thought “queer,” but no one would apply that epithet to our large and merry Jon. It’s normal now.Well, I’ve run along—somehow felt you’d be interested in the things that are interesting us. Life is very full—one curious result of believing as we do about mind-power and thought-control is that people are always coming to talk—many of them in trouble. It makes one happy, feeling that one is used as a channel, but one’s days disappear in a disconcerting fashion! However, it is one form of being “on service,” and I believe that’s the only thing that matters.What a lot you’ve always given, in affection and happy outlook—and in laughter, which is one of the best forces in life. Do you know what I was thinking of the day before your letter came? Do you remember coming to see Mother when she was ill and we’d put her for coolness in father’s little room? You’d said good-bye, but you suddenly turned from the front door and ran back to her, and said “I just had to come back and pull your pigtail!” If you knew how many laughs that gave her—bless you! Other people used to look like [scowling face] and ask about her symptoms.Write again some time—I do love to hear. My love to you and all the dear old friends. How I would love a yarn to you.Yours ever affectionately,M. G. Bruce
III. Mary Grant Bruce to Ada Borthwick
Robinswood22nd Sept. 1935Dearest Mrs. Borthwick,You know without my telling you how sorry I was to hear from Jean of your illness—and if I were a free agent I’d be in London tomorrow to see you and the girls: but I’m a duck with one wing at the moment, having lately had a minor operation, about which Jean will tell you, and my stitches don’t come out until tomorrow. It’s nothing to worry about, but it will tie me here for a bit.But being 70 miles from you is not a bar to thought, and in that way I am near you now, and will keep near. For years we have studied the power of thought, steadily held, to help in illness; and we know how real it is. The Guild of Healing to which we belong, works altogether by mental means, thought and prayer, for cases sent to it, and the cures that I could tell you about are more like miracles than anything else. We look on thought as a kind of wireless, and we know that where there is love and sympathy and faith that wireless goes straight to its object. I feel that you can believe this—anyhow just because you know I love you, will you try to remember that especially twice a day at 7.30 a.m. and 9.30 p.m. I am thinking steadily at you?—picturing you happy and peaceful, with rays of vitality and health pouring into you, building up new health and harmony in all your being—and will you relax and feel receptive?Of course one is “nothing of oneself.” We just believe in the Master as the Great Healer, just as keen to give people health as He was when He walked in Galilee: we believe that those we have loved, who have gone ahead, are working for Him in that purpose, relaying, as it were, His wireless rays to those who suffer: and we believe that anyone on earth can join in that purpose and be channels for His healing. It doesn’t for a moment supersede the work of doctors and nurses, but it does help to make an atmosphere that aids all their work.It isn’t for us to say precisely what “healing” is. The healing of the Master is from within, and it manifests as He directs—often in complete bodily recovery, or perhaps in the deepest healing of all—absolutely peace of soul. But the Blessing never fails if only one opens oneself to receive it. One patient said to me—“I just had the feeling that the Everlasting Arms were holding me fast.”I haven’t the slightest doubt that all our “dearests” who have gone over are working round you now. I must tell you a little story of my operation last week. After it was over, the sister who had been present as chatting to me in the evening, and asked me “Who is Pat?” “Pat is my son,” I said. “Why?” “Well, when you were unconscious you began to wriggle—and then you said happily, ‘Pat says, “Lie still, Mother,”—Pat says “Lie quite still, Mother—it’s all right—you’re going to be quite well.”’ And you did lie still!” finished sister.So I picture you, with all your dear ones looking after you, those you can see and those you can’t—and there are no “visiting hours” for the ones you can’t see—they’re there all the time, “messengers Given charge concerning thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” [Psalm 91: 11, cfr. Matthew 4: 6.]My best love, and I’ll be looking out for very good reports of you.With strongest thoughts.Yours lovingly,Minnie G. Bruce
IV. Mary Grant Bruce to Jean Borthwick
RobinswoodDorset RoadBexhill-on-Sea24th Sept. ’35.My dear Jean,I was so glad to hear that your mother was going on well—her message was just her, wasn’t it? I was very interested to hear what the Doctor said of the blood-vessels expanding to carry the extra supply, because I’ve known other instances of what they call “compensating adjustments” developing to relieve heart trouble. My father had a weak heart all his life, and we never knew when an attack of palpitation would come. Certainly his doctor thought one would carry him off. But he lived to be 90, and in the last 10 years the heart strengthened, and was wonderfully strong in his last illness—a stroke. With what I know now I believe it was largely due to his serenity of mind: he took care—after 75!—but he declined to worry. And his last few years were wonderful, for his mind was so clear and young.My husband’s heart was weak for years—he was not allowed to go to the Front in the War, and always had to be very careful. Five years ago, when we were both in the mud, mentally and physically, we were put on to a system of breathing with the use of thought, and though we hadn’t the least faith in it—it seemed to us so visionary, and we’re very practical people—we promised to try it for 3 months. The results fairly amazed us. We lost every ailment we had, and they were many—even in my case, frequent acute lumbago. In 5 years we’ve each had 2 slight colds—we used to have colds and ’flu all the winter. Our minds toned up with our bodies, and we came back from the depths to be happy, normal, and stronger than we had been for twenty years.Once you get interested in this sort of thing it is a queer fact that all sorts of side-lights seem to be led to you about it. One in our case was a course of lectures on practical psychology. We learned a lot from it: the lecturer was very keen on thought used constructively. He said that all the body responded to thought, but that three organs were especially susceptible to it—the eyes, the ears, and the heart. So my husband and I treated his heart steadily, just thinking strength into it. I don’t mean that we made a ceremony of it: he made it part of his breathing exercises, and I thought at him quietly alone. It helps very much in mental treatment to make a mental picture of the person you want to help, for one’s mental pictures have real power—so real that nowadays we literally do not dare to picture anything that includes fear. When I treat a case, I “see” him, happy, strong, well, bathed in light, and that light signifies to me the supply of all his special need. One can’t, oneself, know all his need, because one is finite: but if that light can represent to you the Infinite Love, help can’t fail.There are not always cures, as man counts cures—though there are many. But whenever one talks to people engaged in mental healing one hears of amazing cases where pain goes. I know of one, a man with very advanced cancer of throat, in ghastly pain and fear: and under mental healing every bit of pain and fear went. He lived on for 6 weeks, in perfect serenity, and his passing was a triumph.I don’t often use the term “faith-healing,” for it puts off people who can’t feel faith. I had very little myself. But if one can get people to try—just for an experiment—so often results come; and then faith takes care of itself. One can’t whip up faith to order, but one can take a chance to help—and I don’t think God bothers about one’s beliefs or lack of them, so long as one is trying to help. And when a result comes that is beyond any earthly explaining—well, one just knows that it is God, and one realizes that God needs human channels to work with. So we just go on holding our little pictures of people bathed in light, and when we finish we give thanks—before we see any result. That’s important.And then one mustn’t spoil it by worrying. It was very hard for me to realise this, being a born worrier: harder still to practice. Then I was taught the power of affirmative prayer—the prayer that not only asks, but takes. The 23rd Psalm is a supreme example—“The Lord is my shepherd, therefore I lack nothing,” and the power of that Psalm, especially when said aloud, is most remarkable. Any affirmation for God has power. I have my own, for any matter that tries to worry me: whenever a worry-thought comes I say “God’s looking after that—it’s all right.” It’s beyond any explaining, how it can turn aside worry—even material difficulties seem to melt. It seems to me that it is like linking-up with some reservoir of power.We “sit under” a very fine Presbyterian minister here who said something once that is worth thinking over in this connection—“Most of us pray wrongly—we’re so busy clasping hands in prayer that we omit to open them to receive.” And we have grown to believe that the prayer that merely asks isn’t much good: we’ve got to do something ourselves, to get busy about taking. It fits in, doesn’t it, with, “Whatsoever ye ask, believing that ye have received—” [Mark 11: 24.]It doesn’t mean living on a high plane. This is as jolly and ordinary a home as you can see, full of laughter. Only we have learned a few things about practical working, and no other religion is any good to me—I’ve got to see practical results. We are only stumblers on the way, always learning, always making mistakes. But we do get results that make the learning worthwhile: if I can pass onto you and Kathleen a few thoughts that may help you in a difficult time, then I’m paying a bit of the debt I owe for all I’ve been given in the way of help. We don’t limit our system to illness: it works over all the practical happenings of every day. It works extraordinarily over smoothing journeys: we’ve had experiences of travel being smoothed away that have made us gasp, they’re so strange. Try it when you think you’re going to miss a train, when things go wrong—“God’s looking after this—it’s all right.” And it will be.Don’t be put off by a faith-healer who has to charge a fee. After all, he has to pay rent and food-bills, and if he doesn’t make a charge he might be quite unable to give his time. One has to look at the thing practically. I know a woman who had the power of being a channel very strongly. She declined to take any fees, believing it to be wrong. She was very poor, a widow whose two sons had been killed in the War, and she earned her living by teaching music, going here and there to pupils, taking healing cases at every moment when she could fit them in, often until midnight. Her friends begged her to drop teaching and charge healing fees, but she wouldn’t: and she was wearing herself out. Then it really seemed that God took a hand and said “my channel shall not be wasted,” for by a succession of coincidences all her pupils fell away, leaving her with none, until she was forced to charge a small fee for patients. Today she is doing wonderful work, keeping all her energy and time for the healing. She still hates taking fees, but she has learned that it isn’t sense to waste her gift.Some people have the gift strongly through touch. I believe most people are healers, more or less: and the gift can always be developed. The laying-on of hands may be used by anyone: I have known the pain of a double-dislocation relieved by a woman who had never tried anything of the kind before, but, wrung by the sight of the girl’s agony, obeyed a sudden impulse to stroke her gently, with a desperate prayer to be made a channel. It was four hours before the doctor came, and all that time the girl was out of pain as long as the hands kept on her—if the “channel” moved away for a moment the pain returned in full force. None of us know how we may be used, until we try.I hope all this hasn’t bored you—you needn’t answer it! I got interested in the method of our treatment in telling you about my husband’s heart, and didn’t tell you the result. The result is that there now seems nothing wrong with it! Last year we three went for a 3-weeks’ cycling tour in Devon and Cornwall, doing hundreds of miles in that hilly country, and nothing tried him. This summer he went to Wales for 3 weeks, walking 12–20 miles a day in the mountains and came home looking like a boy. He is 68. Whereas he used to cherish colds all the winter, he now seems immune to either colds or winter flu. Last winter he went about in flannels. I wore an overcoat exactly three times. I submit that if only on the score of economy this result is worth attaining! And it is entirely due to the “Healing and Strength” system we were given 5 years ago. I’ll put in a copy.The length of this letter will show you it doesn’t hurt me to write—my wound is just west of the armpit, and my forearm is quite available for duty. I am much gayer now that the stitches are out—for a few days I must take things easily, but I’ll soon be well.Please keep on feeling very hopeful—don’t let yourself say that you’re afraid of anything: that’s an affirmation that is too risky to use. I seem to have cast most of my burden of fears, but there’s one thing I’m afraid to say, and that is—“I’m afraid!”Much love to you both, and my strongest thoughts.Yours affectionately,M. G. Bruce
V. Mary Grant Bruce to Jean Borthwick
RobinswoodDorset RoadBexhill-on-Sea24th Oct. ’35.My dear Jean,I was so sorry not have a glimpse of you and Kathleen yesterday, so am writing to wish you both a happy and peaceful voyage. It was lovely to see your dear little Mother, and she was so bright and happy. I hope my visit did not tire her. It seems such a good plan that you have changed cabins, if only for the possibility of keeping a port-hole open and my experience is that a ship doctor gives far more attention to a class in the 1st class.You say I was a tow-rope. I wasn’t: I only showed you a tow-rope. It is there all the time, if you will grip it. Don’t let your minds dwell on difficulties, either present or possible—cast your burden by affirming the Power that can deal with any difficulty. Our affirmation—“God’s looking after it—it’s all right”—is the best tow-rope I know. It has pulled us out of many a bad hole. It is just an affirmative prayer, and that is the most powerful form of prayer.It seems to me that in the mysterious form of “wireless” that prayer works we have to make an active connection that establishes the full electric circuit. I’m not scientific, but I compare it with getting light into a room. We don’t know what electricity is; we only know that it is a force man can use if he turns on a switch. If he only looks at the switch, and prays “let light come,” he has not connected up fully. But if he makes an active connection, pulling down the switch, he has affirmed faith in it—and he gets light. Our affirmative prayer—like the 23rd Psalm, which is our splendid affirmation—is the pulling down of the switch.I know that if you practice it regularly you will feel worry drop from you and feel that strength has been given you to face any emergency. You will “lift up your hearts”: and the mental sympathy that is so strong between mother and children will enable your mother to sense that confidence and serenity in you, and it will react upon her in every way.Will you send me a p.c. from some of the ports to say how the journey goes? I’ll be thinking of you all every day, and knowing that “God’s looking after you—you’re all right.”Love to you both, and “bon voyage.”Yours affectionately,Mary Grant Bruce
VI. Mary Grant Bruce to Jean Borthwick and Kathleen Borthwick
SunningdaleDorset RoadCroydon19th Nov. ’39My dear Kathleen and Jean,It was not until I came back to Victoria lately that I heard that your dear mother had gone to find those waiting for her on the Other Side—and what a reunion that must have been! But to you two, whose companionship made her life here beautiful to the end, there must be great loneliness. And George and I send you all our sympathy. I am sure you would not have wished her to stay, once she grew too tired, but the daily blank is hard to bear at first. I have found it only lessens when one can concentrate thought on the one who has gone ahead—picturing that new life, blessing daily the one we love in new joys and service. I am so very sure they never go beyond the reach of our love and our blessings.I can think of very few people who so consistently gave love and received it as your mother. She is my very oldest friend: always an example of what could be, and of “gallant and high-hearted happiness.” [cfr. “Grant to us, O Lord, the royalty of inward happiness, and the serenity which comes from living close to thee. Daily renew in us the sense of joy, and let the eternal spirit of the Father dwell in our souls and bodies, filling every corner of our hearts with light and grace; so that, bearing about with us the infection of good courage, we may be diffusers of life, and may meet all ills and cross accidents with gallant and high-hearted happiness, giving thee thanks always for all things.” Robert Louis Stevenson.] I don’t suppose she ever guessed how much she helped other people—but she had only to be her dear self to do that.With much love.Your affectionate friendMary Grant Bruce