Quickly healed after near-fatal fall
I spent my elementary school summers swimming with friends at a local pool. My father taught me how to do some competitive diving, so I was very familiar with using the diving boards. This day in August 1965 was the first time that summer that my mom and sister were at the pool with me. My dad, an airline pilot, was out of the country.
I was ten years old, and on this day I fell from the ten-foot-high diving board onto the concrete alongside it, missing the water entirely. I have no memory of the fall itself, but what I do remember is just as vivid now as it was the day it happened.
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I suddenly found myself looking down on the swimming pool as if I were fifty or sixty feet in the air. I could see people running to gather around some activity near the base of the high diving board. I asked, “What’s happening?” A very distinct and calm voice answered, “You fell off the high diving board.” I argued, “No! This is just a dream!”
The conversation went on a bit longer, and I continued to argue that what I was watching had to be a dream, refusing to believe it could be true. Quite abruptly, the scene vanished, and all was black. Then I heard my mother saying the Lord’s Prayer. I asked her what had happened. She responded, “You fell off the high diving board.”
I was placed on a stretcher, loaded into the back of a station wagon, and taken to the hospital. My mom rode with me.
Later I learned from my sister and my mom that while I was lying unresponsive on the concrete, my mother told my sister to ride her bicycle home and call the Christian Science practitioner we always called for help. A doctor who happened to be at the pool that day had told my mom, “Lois, I’m afraid we’ve lost him.” She refused to listen and just kept repeating the Lord’s Prayer out loud, fervently hanging on to every word.
My sister called the practitioner but kept getting a busy signal. While continuing to try to reach the practitioner, she read and reread this passage from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy: “How transient a sense is mortal sight, when a wound on the retina may end the power of light and lens! But the real sight or sense is not lost. Neither age nor accident can interfere with the senses of Soul, and there are no other real senses. It is evident that the body as matter has no sensation of its own, and there is no oblivion for Soul and its faculties. Spirit’s senses are without pain, and they are forever at peace. Nothing can hide from them the harmony of all things and the might and permanence of Truth” (pp. 214–215).
At the hospital, X-rays were taken of my entire body. I was then taken to a private room, where my mom told me that the Christian Science practitioner was praying for me.
My mother was called out of the room, and when she returned, she collapsed into a chair, sobbing. I was able to reach over and touch her arm, and I said, “It’s OK, Mom; I’m a Christian Scientist.” She smiled, and that seemed to ease her crying. At no point was I in extreme pain. In hindsight, I am so grateful that I was able to maintain that clear, childlike trust and know that I was OK.
About six months later, my mom told me that when she was called from my hospital room, the doctors told her I had multiple fractures in my skull, one hip was broken, my right arm was fractured, and I was blind in one eye. They believed a bone fragment had severed the optic nerve. Thus the significance of my sister finding inspiration in the passage from Science and Health about “the real sight or sense” not being lost. The doctors also told my mom that the injuries were so severe that there wasn’t anything they could do, and that I would not live through the night.
The next morning they again took extensive X-rays. I heard the doctors tell my mother that the bone breaks and fractures had already begun to knit together. They also determined that I was again able to see out of both eyes.
I believe it was two days after the fall that my father returned from overseas and came straight to the hospital. I was sitting up and showed him the many pictures of spaceships I had been drawing with my right hand since arriving at the hospital. On the fourth or fifth day it was decided that I could go home. When school started a couple of weeks later, I was there on the first day of classes. I never had any difficulty in school thereafter—in learning or in athletics.
This experience has always been a touchstone in my life as a Christian Scientist, proof that “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). I have had a life filled with wonderful, rapid physical healings as well as harmonious resolutions of supply, career, and relationship issues—a bushel of experiences that I am so grateful to have been able to share as a Sunday School teacher and in Wednesday testimony meetings at my branch Church of Christ, Scientist. The diving board experience has been the salient one that has helped me to stay the course all my life as a Christian Scientist—to never look for any remedy other than prayer—and to understand that I am a perfect, spiritual child of God.
Robert C. Hummel III
Laguna Beach, California, US
I was nearby when my brother Rob, playing with a friend on the high diving board, slipped and fell. I ran to him and yelled “the scientific statement of being” from Science and Health (p. 468) until our mother came and sent me home to call the practitioner. At home, I grabbed my Bible and Science and Health marked with that week’s Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly, which I read while trying to reach the practitioner. I was shaking with fear until I landed on the statement Rob mentions. As I read, I substituted the words life and body for words in the passage so that it read: “How transient a sense is mortal [life], when a wound on the [body] may end the power of [life]! But the real [life] is not lost. Neither age nor accident can interfere with [Life], and there [is] no other real [life].”
Immediately I was at peace. I knew that Rob’s real life was untouched and that this was the truth right then. The shaking stopped. I knew all was well. After reaching the practitioner, I headed to the hospital to be with my mother. I told her that I knew Rob was fine. And that understanding and feeling did not leave me.
With deep love for God, Christ Jesus, and Mary Baker Eddy for making the facts of our true life evident and provable right here, I submit my account of this experience.
Portland, Oregon, US