"Nona Brooks' Mystical Experience" by Rev. Christine 9/19/21 (text)
“Nona Brooks Mystical Experience”
by Rev. Christine 9/19/21
My prior talk was about Malinda Cramer, and her mystical experience in 1885 which led to founding Divine Science in San Francisco, CA. Today I’m speaking about Nona Brooks’ mystical experience in 1887 which led to her healing. And, along with her two sisters, Alethea and Fannie co-founded Divine Science in Denver, CO. Following Malinda’s passing in 1906, Denver became the headquarters for Divine Science.
Let us now go back in time and learn more about Nona Brooks. I’ll be sharing from the book “Powerful is the Light” by Hazel Deane, published in 1945; Nona was interviewed for this authorized version of her life.
The spiritual journey of Nona Brooks is marked by an early experience when she was about 10 or 11 years of age. It was on a Sunday afternoon and the others had gone to church, leaving Nona at home, because of a slight illness. In her own words:
“I went out to the garden – we lived in the country – and walked for an hour or so back and forth between two long flower beds. The picture is vivid in my mind to this day. The glorious sunshine, the brilliant blue of the sky, the mass of flowers around me, the trees in the background, the peace over it all, wonderful peace.”
“Suddenly the garden was filled with light and the light was other than sunlight; and standing very still, I knew that the light was God. That was the only word that could describe it. The only word that could encompass the beauty and the ecstacy of the light. Something seemed to penetrate my soul; a great longing possessed me, a yearning to be closer to God. So intense was this that it was almost painful. I prayed as a child would, “O God, I want to be close to thee.” Over and over again I said “Oh God, I want to be close to thee. My entire being thrilling to it.”
Then as abruptly as the light came it was gone, and I was standing there in the garden and everything was exactly as it had been before. The light was gone but always I would remember keeping it hidden close in my heart the memory of the light and ecstasy of God. The longing of that morning stayed with me. It was my persistent, unwavering desire; and that is always answered.” It would be many years later before the Light returned.
Nona Lovell Brooks was born March 22, 1861, in Louisville, Kentucky, 21 days before the Civil War broke out. The family home was burned, and they moved to Charleston, West Virginia. The family came from wealth, and lived very comfortably in her early years. But, then her father’s business went bad, and a few years later he died leaving them practically pennyless. Part of the family moved to Pueblo, CO for the coal mining boom. A few years later, Nona at 19 would join her family in Pueblo.
As a young adult Nona became very ill with ulcers on her throat. Her throat was excruciatingly painful, and she was unable to eat most foods. Eventually only eating very soft foods prepared as if for a baby. She went to doctors, and tried everything they gave her with no help. The life energy was slowly leaving her body as she lost more and more weight; she was down to 85 lbs. Sobbing, Nona would pray “Father in Heaven, help me! Father in Heaven, give me Light! Light! Light! Father in Heaven give me light!” She only prayed for light.
Nona’s married sister, Fannie and her mother moved to Denver. Leaving Nona in Pueblo with Alethea and her ill husband. It was now 1887, and Nona 26. A friend of Alethea’s, a Mrs. Bingham came to visit. She had just come back from Chicago where she had been healed by Emma Curtis Hopkins. The doctors had claimed Mrs. Bingham’s illness life threatening, and sent her to see specialists in Chicago. The doctor wanted her to stay at least a full year there with him, and as a wife and mother of young children, she just couldn’t do that.
While in Chicago, Mrs. Bingham met Mrs. McCoy, a student of Emma Curtis Hopkins, who suggested that she go to her. She went and was healed by this new kind of prayer treatment. Knowing how ill Alethea and Nona were, she wanted them to attend her classes.
They politely refused, making their excuses of being too busy and of ill health. Surprisingly, Mrs. Bingham even quoted from the Bible in hopes to sway them saying, “Go ye into all the world and heal the sick. Behold I give you power.” They were impressed since she was never a church goer, but still they refused. And when approached again, they still refused.
Six months later, Mrs. Bingham once again invited them, and as Alethea began to say I’m sorry, she interrupted her refusal, saying “This time I am not inviting you, I am commanding you. I will not take “no” for an answer.”
After Mrs. Bingham left Nona cried out, “But sister, you didn’t promise her? We simply can’t do it.” Alethea told her that she had too. Nona replied “She’ll be even more offended if she finds out what we think of that sort of thing. We will have to go. A promise is a promise.”
Nona and Alethea reluctantly entered their very first metaphysical class. They weren’t very impressed, hearing about the Omnipresence of God wasn’t new to them. Mrs. Bingham used Bible scripture to back up her statements. They were given statements of health and God, such as “God is all. God is everywhere present. God is here.” or “God is my health, I cannot be sick.” Mrs. Bingham had said, “Whenever you see anything that looks less than perfect repeat at once the statement of the Omnipresent God.”
It had been only a week in class, and they were repeating these phrases all through the day while they worked. Their lives didn’t seem so gloomy anymore. And, were now looking forward to their afternoon class.
Again, they attended class, and this day something took place. Afterward Nona could not have said just when it happened, but some time during the class she was healed. Afterward, when she tried to tell Alethea about it, she said that it was like light. “The whole room was filled with light, and filled me too. It was as though God were right there in me. It did not seem unusual at all. It seemed the most natural thing in the world. Didn’t you see it? The whole room was filled with light.” Nona alone saw this light.
She did not try to be healed. She simply knew within herself that she was healed. It was as though it had been that way right along, and now, because of the light, she could see that it was so. Nona sat quietly possessed by a feeling of great gladness and reverence contemplating the fact of the light and of her healing, with great joy.
That evening Nona surprised everyone by eating what everyone else was served for dinner; ham, potatoes, and corn. She could feel them watching her as the plate was passed. Calmly, Nona picked up her fork and began to eat. It seemed to Nona that with her healing not only had she changed from a sick girl into a healthy one, but that her entire disposition, and everything in her daily life had changed as well. Later Nona would come to say, “It’s not just being ill that is so difficult. It’s the way illness makes you be!”
Shortly thereafter Alethea’s health was also restored. These two sister’s now realized that there was nothing that God couldn’t do. They had a new realization about God, Nona said, “He’s more powerful, kinder, and I like the new God better. I used to think that God was always checking up on you. He was always going to catch you if you weren’t careful. And even if you weren’t wicked he punished you, anyway. Why I used to think that He actually sent sickness! It was a sort of test that He sent to try us, and we were supposed to endure it bravely!.”
Now she could scarcely believe that only a few weeks before she had been so blind. Now she realized, “I see now that God is perfect and since God is perfect, and is everywhere present, that is all that there is. There actually is no illness. There can’t be. Therefore man can’t be ill, for illness isn’t real! God doesn’t even know about illness!””
Then one evening Alethea’s in-law Lavinia was having another hemorrhage. She would get these severe nose bleeds that would last for hours. This time instead of rushing to get the doctor, Alethea and Nona decided to use their new method. “Nona,’ said Alethea calmly and with great composure, “you treat Lavinia, and I’ll treat you.”
Mrs. Bingham had instructed them that two people were not to treat the same patient. As when two people talked at the same time, it led only to confusion. If two were to treat, one was to treat the patient, and the other was to treat the one who treated, thus making the treatment of even greater effect.
This was there first time to be treating anyone, and Nona began to clutch at these statements, “God is everywhere, therefore God is here. God is health. Health is everywhere. Therefore health is here. Lavinia cannot be ill, because God is her health. God is her health. God is her health!”
She felt terrified, and felt this would never do, and could never give a treatment, or heal anyone. Then the thought came to her, “No! You can’t heal her. But God can! God can heal her.”
Then she began with, “God is kind and good, God is life and health. There isn’t anything to be afraid of, there is no fear. And then repeated the statement “There is no fear. There is no fear.”
A great wave of feeling of love toward God swept over her. This was reality. It was as though she had entered a realm which lay real and vibrant all about her. God was more real than the porch and the rocking chairs, more real than Lavinia’s trouble, God, all powerful, all – all good, knowing only perfect health and fully able to bring it into experience.
Suddenly it happened, the words that Nona had babbled so furiously had all slipped away, and now she touched that substance. Out of this inner reality the thing was done. There were no words – no voice. It was like a little click of acceptance, and she felt a brief astonishment. Was it really done? Was it as simple as that? The bleeding had stopped, and it wasn’t more than five minutes. Lavinia had been completely healed, she never again had another hemorrhage.
Nona was very excited about how wonderful this kind of prayer was, and told it to her minister, who was at first open to her sharing it, but then the Board put a stop to it, and eventually fired both Nona and Alethea as their Sunday School teachers.
Nona, was visited by Blanche, a neighbor girl, that had sprained her ankle over a week ago. The ankle was all swollen and purple. Nona said, “Blanche do you believe that God can heal your ankle?” “Yes” she replied. “Do you believe that there is anything that God can’t do?’ “Oh, no” she agreed. “Then He could heal your foot, couldn’t He?” Persisted Nona. “Yes. I guess so,” Blanche replied. Then Nona told her “Just keep on saying to yourself that God can do anything. Keep saying it over and over while I give the treatment. There is nothing that God can’t do.”
She closed her eyes and began to treat, repeating, as she had been taught, trying to make it all have a feel of reality. After a while it came, coming quite easily with the same sense of peace, the same little soundless click within her. There it was, the conviction that the thing had happened. It was over. It was done, and she stood up.
Nona, then told the girl that she had to go to town and would be back in two hours or three o’clock, and at four o’clock I want you to come over to my cabin for another treatment. Blanche’s foot still appeared swollen and unable to walk on it. When 4 o’clock came, Blanche was all happy saying “It’s healed, and I won’t need another treatment.”
Now the word got around fast, and that was the beginning of Nona’s and Alethea’s healing ministry. To support herself, Nona attended the Pueblo Normal school and then Wellesley, and became a teacher for the Pueblo primary school. During this time, Fannie, had ladies over during the day for Bible classes, and Alethea did treatment.
As the sisters gave more thought to what Mrs. Bingham taught, they began to question. A student had asked “But Mrs. Bingham, if God is everywhere, isn’t God in us?” and Mrs. Bingham said definitely, ‘No, No. God is not in us! How could the greater be contained in the lesser?’ And yet there had been the Light, and out of that Light must have come the healing.”
Gradually, however, they moved away from the theory as given by Mrs. Bingham, a change that took place slowly, as new ideas and aspects were revealed to their seeking thought. They came almost at once head on against the denial of reality of matter. “Yet that table is made of matter,” Nona said, “It’s real! Someone thought of it, of course. The thought preceded the result, as in our bodily conditions. Wrong thinking precedes illness. Right thinking makes us well.
“Its like light and darkness.” Nona said, “In the light of God’s Presence, the darkness disappears.” “Then there is no matter, no error, after all.” “It exists in fact but only if we in our thought and feeling misuse the spirit within us which is God. First Cause, and so create evil. Why that’s it! Spirit is creative! Spirit, God, is Cause, One Cause. Many uses, but One Cause. One. One. One.”
Fannie had long been corresponding with a woman in San Francisco named Malinda Cramer, founder of Divine Science. Then in 1889 Malinda Cramer came to Denver and taught. The Brooks sisters attended finding their theory was almost identical requested if they could also use the name Divine Science for their teachings, and Malinda Cramer agreed.
Alethea and Nona moved to Denver to join Fannie. While Nona was teaching at a Denver school, her sister Alethea wanting to take a long vacation, offered to Nona to take over for her, and see if that is what she really wanted to do. Nona had until the Fall to make a decision. Within a month new exactly what she wanted, and resigned from the school.
The classes and healing work grew. Next people wanted a Sunday church service. Nona, in 1898, went to San Francisco to be trained and ordained by Malinda Cramer. The same year they incorporated the Divine Science College of Denver, Alethea as President and head of the Healing Dept., Fannie Treasurer was head of the Teaching Dept., and author of their text books, and Nona served as Minister. January 1, 1899 was their first Sunday Service led by Rev. Nona Brooks. After her sisters passed on, Alethea 1906 & Fannie 1914; Nona carried the church and college.
One day a man came in her office with a large red painful carbuncle on his neck, and asked for her to help him. Nona looked at the carbuncle, and then, even as she looked, it was gone. One moment the carbuncle was there and the next moment it disappeared. Then Nona went into treatment knowing it was already gone, and when she opened her eyes the whole room was filled with light. The man gently touched his neck, and was so amazed that the carbuncle was totally gone.
Nona had a long career running the church and at times also the college. She frequently spoke at INTA, and involved in city matters. Upon resigning her position as Minister of the Denver church, Nona traveled the country lecturing and help study groups and centers. Nona spent a year in Australia supporting the centers in Melbourne and Sydney. In New York, Nona ordained John Murray and Emmet Fox. The Fillmore’s of Unity were frequent visitors at the school. Ernest Holmes of Religious Science was also ordain in Divine Science.
At the end of the book, Nona Brooks is talking to Hazel the author. Nona is laughing, as she says “Some day, some day we’ll sit on the edge of a cloud and talk this over.” Nona was teaching two classes in the college and editing the Divine Science Monthly just two days before her passing on March 14, 1945. Eight days before her 84 birthday.