Ellen G. White: The Lonely Years: 1876-1891 (vol. 3)


Ellen White and the Sanitarium

Ellen White had taken a special interest in the developments at the Sanitarium. She understood, perhaps better than others, its potential field of fruitful service. With burgeoning patronage and a capable staff, the care of the guests broadened to include recreational activities such as driving about the town or visits to Goguac Lake, two miles to the south. On Wednesday, May 30, a picnic at the lake was planned for the staff and guests. Of her participation in this she reported: 3BIO 61.6

I was urged to be present and speak to the patients. Had I consulted my feelings I should not have ventured, but I thought perhaps this might be a part of the work I was to do in Battle Creek. 3BIO 62.1

At the usual hour, tables were spread with hygienic food, which was partaken of with a keen relish. At three o'clock the exercises were opened with prayer and singing. I had great freedom in speaking to the people. All listened with the deepest interest.—Ibid. 3BIO 62.2

As she wrote to Edson and Emma of the occasion, she mentioned that “it was one of the fairest days of early summer. The blue waters spread out like a mirror under the sunlight, while the groves skirting the lake were reflected upon its placid surface.”—Letter 45, 1877. 3BIO 62.3

About fifty were in her audience, and she endeavored to lead their minds from nature to nature's God. She described Christ's ministry by the lake as He taught the multitude on the shore, drawing lessons from nature and the common events of life. From a stand she raised a large bouquet of flowers in a vase, and, according to editor C. W. Stone: 3BIO 62.4

With language the most eloquent she inspired her hearers with hope and trust in the great Teacher, representing Him as a Being of tender love and infinite goodness. A few steps away was the border of the lake, with the boats in waiting by the shore. Everything conspired to carry the mind right back to the days of our Saviour's preaching by the seashore.—The Review and Herald, June 7, 1877. 3BIO 62.5

As to the response she reported: 3BIO 62.6

All listened with the deepest interest. After I had ceased speaking, Judge Graham of Wisconsin, a patient at the sanitarium, arose and proposed that the lecture be printed and circulated among the patients and others for their moral and physical benefit, that the words spoken that day might never be forgotten or disregarded. The proposition was approved by a unanimous vote.—Testimonies for the Church, 4:272.

The address was published in a pamphlet entitled “The Sanitarium Patients at Goguac Lake.” One person to grasp her hand warmly as she stepped down from the stand was R. Hutchinson, a minister and a fellow laborer of William Miller and Joshua V. Himes, back in 1843 and 1844. He was in despair, but the talk given by the lake reached his heart and he called on her for help. “Wonderful!” exclaimed James White, as he wrote to Willie of the experience. “He is a splendid, good, sweet Christian gentleman hungering for living religion.”—JW to WCW, June 10, 1877. 3BIO 63.1