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The BA Blog

Peter Henniker-Heaton: Man of Joy

Join us online Thursday, January 25 at 7:30pm EST to learn more about the inspired life of Peter Henniker-Heaton with author Kim Schuette. Register here.

What inspired you to write this book?

KS: Picture yourself confined to a bed for nearly ten years in a state of nearly total paralysis, while still maintaining your joy and buoyancy! This was the situation Peter Henniker-Heaton found himself in during the early days of World War II in London. A main vision for writing Peter Henniker-Heaton: Man of Joy was that I thought it would be helpful and inspiring to those who might be seeking healing while receiving Christian Science nursing. About six years ago while still researching and writing, I was invited to give a talk at Chestnut Hill Benevolent Association. This provided affirmative feedback about the importance of continuing to produce the book. In addition to an attentive audience, one patient who was listening from her room, later reported being helped by the talk. The reception at the BA was encouraging, so I continued. Now there’s a more complete story to be told and I’m looking forward to sharing Peter’s story with a larger audience on Zoom this Thursday.

What can you share with us about Rose, Peter’s wife?

KS: Rose’s involvement with Peter’s well-known healing was essential. Just after they were married, Peter became paralyzed. Doctors said she couldn’t care for him at home. But she did successfully care for him at home with Christian Science. They lived in the top of a five story walk-up flat in Kensington, London, which I visited last summer. During the London Blitz of World War II, she would carry him down to the bomb shelter. There was a house destroyed nearby. Sometimes, she put him under a table in case the ceiling fell. Even so, she had to make a living for them by singing professionally, including in a bomb shelter.

My heart bursts with awe and admiration when I think of her caring labor for almost ten years. Christian Science practitioners were helping with prayer all along. She wrote about seeing him move for the first time, “I will never forget how I felt. The first view I had of a change was when I saw him take his weight with his hands on his knees—his whole weight on his feet for the first time.”

Even after all of this, I think she shared Peter’s freedom from any regret or loss when the healing was complete.

How does Peter and Rose’s story relate to Christian Science nursing?

KS: I think it is of special interest that Peter was an ideal Christian Scientist patient. This was a struggle; but, he was joyful, steadfast, undeterred, “seeing the end from the beginning [Isaiah],” he wrote. She later became Second Reader and a lecturer for The Mother Church. I love thinking of Rose as representing the qualities of a Christian Science nurse as defined by Mrs. Eddy, “The nurse should be cheerful, orderly, punctual, patient, full of faith, — receptive to Truth and Love.” (Science & Health, p. 395: 18). What a wonderful example for us all!

Join us online this Thursday evening. Can’t make it? Register anyway and we’ll send you the recording. Register here.

Click here to purchase a copy of Peter Henniker-Heaton: Man of Joy. It is also available in paperback from our friends at Longyear Museum bookstore.

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