A Christian Scientist on the Titanic
by Lieut. C. H. Lightoller, Second Officer, Titanic
It is difficult to tell of the experience which follows, but the student of Christian Science will readily see in it that acceptance of the truth made the overcoming of fear possible, and that divine Principle is to be relied upon at all times.
While the Titanic was sinking, and during the whole time I was working at the boats, I held to the truth, thereby eliminating all fear. I do not pretend that any man can go down on a ship at midnight, in mid-Atlantic, and succeed in eliminating fear, without hard work. It was hard work, and yet the very conditions which existed on the port side were in themselves a demonstration of the workings of Truth, for not the slightest hitch occurred, and all boats were got away, the last one, which was a flat-bottomed collapsible, floating off the deck.
I could see that all material work was finished, so from where I was on top of the quarters and above the bridge, I faced forward and walked into the water. The sudden immersion in this penetratingly cold water for a few seconds overcame all thought, and I struck out blindly for the crow’s nest, which is on the foremast, and was at that time just above the water. Almost immediately I found myself drawn with great force against the grating covering the mouth of the forward blower, a huge ventilator leading down to the forward stokehold. In this position I went below the surface with the ship.
I want to emphasize strongly this point, that as soon as I collected my thoughts, after taking to the water, I remember saying to myself, “Now, I’ll see how much I have learned from Christian Science.” A doubt never entered my mind as to the possibility of my surviving; in other words, of the ability of the divine power to save me. I think I can conscientiously say that with this thought all fear left me. It was at this moment that I was drawn into the water, still realizing the truth, and while I was below the surface, these words from the 91st Psalm came to me so distinctly that I seemed to realize their full import: “He shall give his angels charge over thee.”
Immediately, I think, I was thrown away from the blower, and came up to find a piece of wood in my hand, which seemed to be attached to the top of the funnel by a wire. A second time I went down, still holding fast to the truth, and again came to the surface. Alongside me was the flat-bottomed collapsible boat. This I laid hold of, but made no attempt to board it.
I want it to be understood that during this time in the water, the fact came calmly and clearly that there was a divine power which could be utilized in a practical manner, and also it seemed perfectly natural to rely on this power with the spiritual understanding which is so often spoken of in the Bible, and which is explained in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mrs. Eddy. Now, with the sinking of a great ship like the Titanic, there was also the fear of suction to overcome, and at this time the forward funnel fell, throwing the collapsible boat, myself, and other survivors about twenty feet clear of the ship, so that of suction we felt nothing.
About thirty of us floated the remainder of the night on the upturned boat. At daybreak we found two life-boats floating nearby, into which we were taken. I was the last member of the Titanic to board the Carpathia. Reaction or effects from the immersion, which I was confidently assured would take place, there were none; and though surprise has been expressed by very many, it only goes to prove that “with God all things are possible.”