This I Believe

Carpenter, Ellen Waller


  • Ellen Carpenter describes her belief that prayer works and that the answer to the poverty and problems of the world is a spiritual one.
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And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Ellen Carpenter is the widow of the composer John Alden Carpenter with whom she wrote several songs. She has been active in various civic organizations, including the Illinois Children's Home and Aid Society, the American Opera Company, and the American Association for the United Nations. Her home in Chicago is being turned into an art center, as a contribution to the life of the city she loves. Here now is Mrs. John Alden Carpenter.
The most exciting discovery of my life is that prayer works. I have proved it to myself—not once, but many times. My key to make it work is a complete reliance on God. A complete surrender of will. This
gives meaning and a plan to my life.
After the death of my husband, I realized that my life had to have a new pattern, completely different. In order to be happy, I had to feel useful. I found that guidance could always be obtained if honestly sought. So I have let go, and day by day I build a new life, new friends, and deeper interests. I believe if we can honestly become humble, honestly give up self-will, vanity, egotism, and selfishness, there is a plan for each one of us.
Last year my plan took me around the world, and I felt and saw the problems that no country and no person
escapes, and I realized anew that there is no answer, save a spiritual one. This is becoming apparent to many people, everywhere. There are two things we have in common with all humanity: problems, and a belief in a higher power that can help to solve them. I believe we must realize that the things we can’t see are as important and as real as the things we can see. And we must remember that faith can remake lives. This I have proved to myself.
It is difficult to make a complete surrender of one’s life, to really give up all idea of self, to seek God’s guidance in everything, little or big. It is this complete surrender that unlocks the door to the correct
pattern of one’s life. My stumbling block has been a withholding, a reluctance to take the final step, to accept God’s guidance completely, no matter where it will lead. The thought that change is inevitable is comforting if we change in the right way. There is no problem so grave that prayer will not solve it.
When one finds the key to successful living, I believe it can be seen and felt by others. It is possible to share this knowledge and to make it easier for others to solve their problems. Arthur Compton, the discoverer of cosmic ray once said to me, “The further I go in science, the nearer I come to God.” This is a comforting thought. I believe our civilization must create not only great buildings but men and women of spiritual
greatness, so that our world will survive and its knowledge increase.
I believe that if we Americans give enough and care enough, we can lead the world from confusion to a plan, from want to plenty, from war to peace. For so long, I felt there was nothing I could do, and then I made a solemn resolve that I would try always to do each day everything constructive that came my way. We have more than any other country on the globe. I believe we must do more with it, give more, understand more, and love more. This is my credo.
Those were the beliefs of Mrs. John Alden Carpenter of Chicago.