Written in 1939 for the Introduction to Unity’s Fifty Golden Years by Dana Gatlin
It is no easy task to write about oneself, especially when the call is for a personal1ife sketch, in which must appear those insignificant little things which are no different in the case of millions of others of the human family yet in which it is claimed that readers have particular interest.
"I winna blaw about mysel,
As ill I like my faults to tell,"
sang the Scotch plowboy when he found himself in the public eye; and this is probably the feeling we all have.
I am admonished to begin at the very beginning and tell my readers everything that has occurred, not only the events that have come to pass since the Unity idea was conceived but also the life incidents that formed the basis of its inception; that is, both a historical and a mental "parade intimate" of the Unity movement. To do this we shall have to recount many small and uninteresting matters that are common to most persons and that challenge also the preconception of some by references to previous incarnations. Every movement of far-reaching effect has antecedents reaching back into the past, beyond the beginnings of personalities.
Consulting the light of Spirit, I have been privileged to see states of consciousness formed by my ego thousands of years before its entry into. this body, and I must measure the present status of myself not only by what the conscious mind registers but by what is stored up in the subconscious pigeonholes or brain pockets. So let us understand that we are taking notes of the minor episodes of an ego whose real identity has been veiled by sense in much of its history but is now being cleared up by the light of the Spirit. The darkness in which I stumbled for aeons was the result of my willful obstinacy and laziness in searching for the light. When I found how accessible it was and how easy it was to open up the sunshine and enjoy its companionship. I was eager to have everybody take advantage of it, and that is why I am baring my heart to you, dear reader.
I was born into this present itinerary on August 22, 1854, at 4 a.m. The place was an Indian reservation on the Sauk River, near Saint Cloud, Minnesota. My father was a trader with the Chippewa Indians; my mother a Canadian of English and Welsh ancestry. My father was born in Buffalo, New York. His only known ancestor that I ever heard of was John Fillmore, who as a boy of thirteen was kidnapped on the coast of England by pirates. He was on the pirate ship for eighteen years. Finally he and a companion tied the pirates while they were under the influence of liquor and sailed the ship into Boston harbor, where the pirates were executed. This little incident in my family history has often reminded me of what a lecturer on heraldry once said about his family tree: that he was somewhat timid about looking it up because he might find something hanging to it. A facetious member of the audience queried, “By the neck or the tail?”
My brother Norton was two years my junior, and we were the only children. My mother often told us of her hair-raising experiences alone much of the time among roving bands of Chippewa and Sioux Indians, who were nearly always on the warpath not only with each other but sometimes with the whites. One day when Father had gone to another trading post on the east side of the Mississippi River and she was alone with me in the cabin, a band of Sioux dashed up, grabbed me out of her arms, and rode off. She was of course nearly distracted but could do nothing. At sundown they brought me back unharmed. Such incidents made my early years romantic but crude and unprofitable.
When I was ten my life was crossed by what the doctors pronounced a fatal illness. It began with what was at first diagnosed as rheumatism in the right leg, which gradually developed into tuberculosis of the hip with many tube abscesses reaching to the bone not only in the hip joint but all over my legs and arms. However I did not pass out but managed after years to get on my feet although my right leg was several inches shorter than the left and I was to all appearances destined to chronic invalidism. I managed to get about with crutches and cane and attended school in a desultory way until I was eighteen.
As my father and mother were separated and without a permanent home, I became restless and wanted other surroundings. In 1874 I went to Caddo, Indian Territory, where I had a cousin. In a few months I got a clerkship in the freight office of the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railway at Denison, Texas, where I lived for five years. I sent for my mother, and there we built a home. It was there I met Myrtle Page, who was teaching school. In 1879 I went to Leadville, Colorado, where I took a course in metallurgy and became a mining assayer, and then I located at Gunnison, Colorado. In 1880 I went back to Denison, Texas. In the spring after that year I met Miss Page at her home town, Clinton, Missouri, where we were married, after which we went directly to Gunnison, Colorado, our home for a season.
But the mining boom broke, and seeking new pastures, we moved to Pueblo, Colorado, where I engaged in the real-estate business. Here my two sons Lowell and Rickert were born. But I never seemed satisfied with my surroundings or at peace with my work, and the urge to go elsewhere was always with me. So I began looking for a location, without knowing exactly where to look. We broke up our home in Pueblo in 1884, and w spent one winter in Omaha, Nebraska. However there was a constant inner urge to go to Kansas City and in the spring of that year we moved to this city, where we eventually found our ideal work.
The first few years here were spent in real estate “plunging,” in which I was quite successful; but when the slump in land values came I lost all holdings. It was during this period that we found the panacea for all our ills. The tubercular trouble with which Mrs. Fillmore had suffered from childhood became so aggravated that nothing availed, and we were considering returning to the mountains as a last resort. Then I had a strange dream: An unseen voice said, “Follow me.” I was led up and down the hilly streets of Kansas City and my attention called to localities that I was familiar with. The Presence stopped and said, “You will remember having had a dream some years ago in which you were shown this city and told that you had a work to do here. Now you are being reminded of that dream and also informed that the invisible power that has located you will continue to be with you and aid you in the appointed work." When I awoke I remembered that I had had such a dream and forgot it. Then we made Kansas City our permanent home.
At about this time Dr. E. B. Weeks, a representative of the Illinois Metaphysical College founded by Emma Curtis Hopkins, came here from Chicago and gave a course of lessons, which Mrs. Fillmore and I attended. Spiritual healing was the keynote of the lessons, and Mrs. Fillmore caught the idea that God was the source of her life and that she did not have to suffer the ills of her ancestors. Her healing began at once, and in about a year she was in good health and began healing her neighbors. Although
I was a chronic invalid and seldom free from pain the doctrine did not at first appeal to me. However I was in sympathy with Mrs. Fillmore's continued demonstrations, in fact my interest became so pronounced that I neglected my real estate for the furtherance of what my commercial friends pronounced a fanatical delusion. In April, 1889, I began the publication of a magazine that I named Modem Thought. It was metaphysical but not up to the standard that Unity magazine now seeks to sustain. Subscribers began to dribble in, and at the end of a year we had several hundred. That was the beginning of the literature output now known as "Unity."
The establishment of a downtown office and the evolution of the local Unity Society is a long story. I gradually became more interested in the study and began to apply the healing principle to my own case with gratifying results. My chronic pains ceased and my hip healed and grew stronger and my leg lengthened until in a few years I dispensed with the steel extension that I had worn since I was a child. I can now truthfully say that I am on the way to perfect healing, although eighty-four years of age.
The most important phase of my experience however was the opening of my spiritual nature. I gradually acquired the ability to go into the silence, and from that source I received unexpected revelations and physical sensations. At first the revelations were nearly all through dreams. I developed a dream code through which I could get information and answers of marvelous accuracy to my questions. I do not remember that I asked who the author of my guidance was; I took for granted that it was Spirit.
Then the mental and spiritual developed into sensations at the nerve extremities. I was informed by the Presence that I was beginning body regeneration as taught by Jesus Christ. Neither physiology nor psychology offers a nomenclature describing it. The first sensation was in my forehead, a "crawly" feeling when I was affirming life. Then I found that I could produce this same feeling in the bottom of my feet and other nerve extremities by concentrating my attention at the place and silently affirming life.
I spent several hours every day in this process, and I found that I was releasing electronic forces sealed up in the nerves. This I have done for nearly fifty years until now I have what may be termed an electric body that is gradually replacing the physical. It is even more than electric, and when certain spiritual emotions are imparted to it, it fairly glows and blends with an omnipresent etheric atmosphere that is highly charged with life energy. My physical organism is being transformed cell by cell and the ultimate will be an entirely new body having all the perfections of youth in addition to ethereal life.
This, Spirit tells me, is the transformation of mind and body promised by Jesus. Paul called attention to it—"Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind"—but he did not attain it. Now at the end of this age the spiritual and mental conditions of the race are ripe for the entering into this new life of all followers of Jesus in the regeneration. It is through this transformation and rearrangement of the atoms of the organism that the Christ body is formed in man's consciousness. When the light of Spirit is allowed to enter the conscious and the subconscious minds a great revelation takes place and it is found to be a literal fact that "your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have from God."
Kansas City, Mo.