Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Lt 4, 1884

Maxson, Brother and Sister

Healdsburg, California

February 6, 1884

Portions of this letter are published in 7MR 43, 349. +Note

Dear Brother and Sister Maxson:

I have arisen early this morning to write to you. Yesterday morning I wrote to you in regard to matters concerning the Health Retreat. This morning I wish to write to you again. I respect all the efforts you have put forth for my comfort; you have done all in your power for me. I want you to know that I never forget these things. 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 1

Were it merely for my own sake, I would not take up my pen this morning, but I do it for the good of the Health Retreat and for the good of all who shall patronize it. We want that everything connected with this institution shall be reformatory, working in an opposite direction to the fashions and customs of this age. But in place of this, it has been patterning after them. 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 2

In the cooking department, there is to a large degree a serious lack so far as the principles of hygiene are concerned. How Bro. ------, with all the light on health reform that God has given us, could sanction the style of cooking that has been carried on there, is more than I can understand. It is indeed a mystery to me. The preparation of the meals is not what it should be in such an institution. Men who patronize the Retreat pay for what they eat and drink, and painstaking effort is required in order to have palatable, healthful dishes. They should have a liberal supply of good, wholesome food. But this has not been given them. 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 3

The order of things that existed when I was there must exist no longer. I am free to speak as others would not dare to do, for this is my work and duty, assigned me by God. Should I remain silent, I would be condemned as unfaithful. 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 4

Your breakfasts have been defective. You have <not> prepared hearty food for those who work hard from early morning until late at night. You have given them hot biscuits—an article of food which should never find its way upon a health-reform table. As I looked upon your table, I thought, What kind of a breakfast is this for those who take only two meals a day? 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 5

If J---- were not so sensitive, she might receive some suggestions in regard to these things. But she has occupied the position as a perfect cook; she has unlimited confidence in her own powers and thinks she understands all about such matters. It is not an easy matter to change her ideas on any point. She moves on, therefore, without seeking counsel or advice from anyone. This is not a correct position for her to hold. But I know where the evil lies. J---- has cultivated an appetite for a flesh-meat diet and thinks it is impossible for her to live without this kind of food. And she reasons the same way in regard to others also. J---- loves meat, and her habits are educating all who connect with the Retreat. 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 6

We have made efforts to secure the Health Retreat in order that we might use it to promulgate the principles of health reform; but by her cooking, J---- shows that she is not a health reformer. While she congratulates herself on being interested in the work and desiring to build it up, unconsciously she is working decidedly against it and is establishing a condition of things to meet her own standard. She is not meeting God’s standard, following the light He has given over and over again. 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 7

Often while there I was compelled to eat meat, because there was nothing else that I could eat. At times I would be so faint and dizzy for the want of good, wholesome food, that I fairly reeled through weakness. All flesh meat is of a stimulating character; it is not nourishing. When the immediate effects of the stimulus are gone, there comes a debility corresponding to the degree of the stimulating influence. 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 8

J---- has not made it her study to prepare wholesome dishes in order that flesh meat as a food may become less and less necessary. I hope that she will not feel that Sr. B---- must be educated in her methods of preparing the meals. I do not know what Sr. B---- is as a cook, but we can afford to try her and let her carry out her own methods without being obliged to follow the ideas of others. This department is left solely in her care. 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 9

If J---- must have meat at every meal, then let Bro. ------ get it for her, but do not make all partake of it because one must have it. But if J---- would reform in this respect and place herself in the right relation to the laws of health, as she will be obliged to do in the near future, she would receive benefit therefrom. She needs health reform as much as anyone with whom I am acquainted. You would do well, S----, to keep a strict account of all the money you expend in meat and compare it with your other expenses. 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 10

I do not write these things, my brother and sister, because I do not love you. I write because <I do love you, but I> can see that, in order to avert suffering and disease to yourselves <and others>, there must be a radical change in the moulding of the institution. I believe that S---- does well in his treatment of the sick, that he is careful and judicious. We are much pleased with this. J---- also does well, but her work is somewhat affected by her feelings. If she feels so inclined, she will do all that she can for anyone. On the other hand, if one does not please her, she will manifest her feelings too plainly to be misunderstood. Her likes and dislikes are strong. 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 11

You are both sensitive to any criticism. You think you do your best, and perhaps you do with your perverted ideas and organization. But I should be sorry to come to that conclusion, for I think there should be decided changes in you both. If there are not, this institution will never accomplish the purpose for which it was established. 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 12

S---- knows just what ought to be done, but he does not take the burden of seeing that these things are done. I know that his crippled condition places him where he is unable of himself to do this. But if he will only tell others what to do, if he will only plan and see that his plans are executed, he could do much to build up and improve the Retreat. A thorough going, <all-sided> man would have placed things two years ahead of their present condition, and that without a great outlay of means. 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 13

I speak that I know. I have heard complaints made of Bro. A----, that he has not done this and that, and that the accident which nearly ruined S---- was caused by him. But I inquired into the matter and found that no one was to blame but S---- himself. He knew the condition of the wagon; he had been made aware of its danger; he knew that it had upset before. But he did not attend to the matter. This trait of character, of letting things go without immediate attention, was the whole cause of the injury. Why does he talk of Bro. A----’s neglect, when the wagon was in his own hands, when it was his duty to make it perfectly safe? It was carelessness on his part, a neglect of his own duty, that resulted in the accident. He has not manifested a right spirit in thus seeing what others might have done, but did not, when he himself had all the opportunities of doing. 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 14

My brother and sister, I want you to feel that there are changes needed in you. If anyone has spoken to show that there should be more interested execution on the part of S----, J---- feels that the poor man is misjudged. But I know his peculiar ways and serious defects in his management as well as, and even better than, he does himself. It is not so much, Bro. ------, what you may do yourself, as what you instruct others to do. Your physical labor is not what is wanted. You can plan and tell what others before you might and should have done. Why not now show what S---- himself can do to build up and improve the work. Do not understand me to mean merely what your own hands may do. You can show others what to do and how to do it. You can superintend the work. 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 15

You claim that the institution has been greatly weighed down by Dr. C----. I admit that it has. But no Dr. C---- is there now, and you have an opportunity to show what you can do. I tell you candidly, my brother and sister, that I <know> you have no word of complaint to offer. Taking all things into consideration, you have done well as regards the receipt of wages. 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 16

There is danger of your feeling dissatisfied when there is no need of it all. We want Bro. ------ to feel free and happy, but not in any wrong way. We do not want him to feel that his course is above criticism, to become childish and appeal to his own sympathies. 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 17

I do not think it is right to arouse J----’s sympathy. She is always much inclined in this direction. But view these matters in a Christian light, from a Bible standpoint. When anything is done by others to improve the condition of things, do not settle back and feel that it is a personal injury to yourselves. Seek God, not as though you were perfect, but as erring beings who are liable to make mistakes. God help you to feel as you should in this matter. 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 18

There must be something more done to build up the Retreat. You need not expect that others will do this work <while you are officiating.> You must do it yourselves. You are there for this purpose. Let no selfish feeling come in. Let not the enemy obtain any advantage. Those who stand in responsible positions must be willing to venture something and run some risks, determined to persevere in the cause they have undertaken. 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 19

<In the outlay of means be guarded. This was brought before those to whom the message was given, and quite a number assembled. Correct principles have not been maintained.> 4LtMs, Lt 4, 1884, par. 20