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Health, or, How to Live

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    SUNSHINE

    How beautiful and enlivening is the sunlight! How it gladdens the eyes and stimulates the powers of all living creatures as it dawns upon the earth in its morning freshness! “It is the very life of nature, without which every thing material would fade and parish.” Just in what way it acts upon plants or animals or men, to impart to them life and vigor, the wisdom of man is not yet to show, but it is known that neither can exist in any thing like normal conditions without an abundant supply of this element or agent. Plants will grow where there is but little light, but they will always be pale and sickly under such circumstances, and instinctively reach toward the light. Every person has seen illustrations of this in the case of vegetables growing in cellars. A potato will send out a vine two or three feet, entirely colorless, and with scarcely any development of leaves, and if there is any where in the apartments an aperture letting in a ray of light, like a star shining in the darkness, the vine is sure to clamber toward it.HHTL 239.3

    So it is known that human beings living in entire darkness, as in dungeons and mines, grow pale and feeble and diseased. A more pitiable class of human beings probably exists nowhere in our world than the miners in England — where man, women and children do not come to the surface of the earth and to the light for months together. These poor people who live in great cities, in streets so narrow that the sunshine never visits their apartments, or in basements, suffer greatly in health from lack of light, and their children are particularly liable to malformations and scrofulous development. In great hospitals in which some of the rooms are nearly destitute of light, it is found that the patients occupying these, recover in a proportion very much below that of those who occupy well-lighted rooms.HHTL 239.4

    We pity the miner, those who are confined in dungeons and those who live in dark lanes. But there are thousands of the more favored classes, who, so far as the sunlight is concerned, might about as well live in dim basements as in their dwellings. Men build fine houses and take great care to have large windows with panes a little larger than their neighbors’ and then cover them so constantly with blinds and drapery that the sun is not permitted to have a good, free open look into their sitting-rooms, parlors or chambers from May till November. At the Spring and Autumn house-cleaning, the house is thrown open for a short time, but the remainder of the year it is a semi-dungeon. Women live in such dim light till their eyes and whole systems become accommodated to it and they imagine that it is not only more pleasant, but better than broad day-light. They can not go out into the sunshine without shading themselves by some arrangement of carriage tops, sun-bonnets, umbrellas or parasols, without suffering. They have established a chronic, morbid relation to God’s glorious gift of light. This is ruinous to health and elasticity of spirits. And all, in the first place, to save the colors in a carpet or to give a delicate shade to the complexion. I would rather never see a carpet and have the complexion of a mulatto, and be permitted to have intimate acquaintance with sunshine, than to be mistress of the most magnificent palace that was ever erected, if I must keep the blinds closed and curtains down.HHTL 240.1

    Men built churches with large, high windows, as if while seeking to commune with Him who dwells in light, and in whom is no darkness at all, they meant to have a symbol of His spiritual presence in the floods of external light in which they should bathe. But instead, they cover the windows with blinds which are never intended to be opened, and are so arranged that they cannot be opened. For all practical purposes the house might as well have been lighted by two nine-panel windows of seven by nine glass. The “dim religious light” is appropriate in those churches whose object is to afford persons a place to mourn and confess their sins and repent in sack-cloth and ashes. If there are any, where the people go to rejoice and offer thanksgiving and praise, they should be well lighted. Light promotes gladness, and consequently healthiness of body and soul.HHTL 241.1

    Undoubtedly one reason why exercise in the open air is more beneficial than in the house is because of the greater degree of light out of doors. Parents should let their children play freely in the sunshine. They always like it when left to themselves. It is cruel to keep little girls in the house, or send them out only in deep sun-bonnets. It is good to allow the warm rays to come down on their bare heads and necks and arms and feet. It is better for the digestion than salts — better for the intellect than spelling-books. It will be a happy day for children when mothers shall learn its value. — Letter Box.HHTL 241.2

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