Today I am on another road trip with husband Greg – who has many occasions to do funerals and weddings out of our immediate area. It is a rainy dark day with many clouds looming above that look heavy with water. The further north we drove the darker those clouds became. I have these great sunglasses that have a amber type glow to them. When wearing them I notice how bright everything becomes – without the glare. Today as we rode into ever increasing darkness – I finally had to take them off. There was no brightening up that darkness – not even with amber glow glasses.
I am thankful for my sight – even though at times I complain about things being too bright – like yesterday when we went to a nearby pumpkin patch to pick out a special pumpkin for carving. I wanted a picture – but the glare was unbelievable.
However, undaunted – I posed for the camera anyway. What's a little glare, right?
I'm also surrounded today by a bunch of NOISE. It is a crowded Starbucks with many conversations and LOUD music streaming through the place. Not that anyone is listening to it. I close my eyes and try to imagine what it would be like to be blind. To have to depend on just my heightened sense of hearing to take in everything happening around me. It is confusing – not sure how I would process all this noise without seeing.
The other day we watched the original “The Miracle Worker” with Anne Bancroft playing Anne Sullivan and Patty Duke playing Helen Keller. It had been many years since I had seen this great movie and was just as fascinated with it when watching it again. Can you imagine a world with BOTH sight and hearing gone? This seem inconceivable and very rarely do we hear about a person today with limitations in both areas at once.
When I try to imagine what it must have been like for the very brilliant mind of Helen Keller to be in a world of darkness and silence – forever – it is difficult. When is my world ever completely quiet? I always have some music playing when working at my desk – can hear my husband upstairs coughing or sneezing – hear the neighbors with their dogs – or when they are working in the yard. I hear cars and trucks going by our house and a million other sounds that I am just used to.
When I try to imagine a world of darkness I think about this when it is night time and I am going to bed. I lie very still in my bed and as quiet as I can and try to stay there and not move. This was the world of Helen Keller.
What must it have been like? Helen was not born blind and deaf so the chances that she had some memory of seeing and hearing are very probable. She would have wondered what happened to her I'm sure. But mostly she had to learn how to communicate with Anne Sullivan who came to work with her and would not give up until she found a way to make Helen understand that letters formed words and words belonged to things she could smell and touch. When this was learned (I have NO IDEA how that could possibly have happened – except that Helen Keller was brilliant) it was no problem for her to learn – and learn and communicate she did! She graduated college and traveled the world – even learned to speak – truly amazing.
We truly have no excuses – those of us that have sight and hearing at our disposal. Sometimes I wonder if our senses actually handicap us out of doing remarkable things – like Helen. It is so distracting to have sounds and sights in our everyday world. We get used to the distractions and it numbs us to producing things that limited people seem to have no trouble achieving. Is it because they are silent and have that inward focus that we lack? I know I would not have the personal modivation to live in silence and darkness. That is something learned and practiced. A person with limitations either in sight or in hearing has learned valuable things in the darkness and silence that the rest of us will never learn.
Can you imagine a world without music? Without mountains you could see? Never see the face of the one you love? Never hear their voice?
Dear Lord – help me be truly appreciative of your many blessings today. Amen.
Cover of Jaws (30th Anniversary Edition)
Last night Greg and I watched a 2 hour documentary about the making of the movie ‘Jaws’ – released in 1975. I remember going to see ‘Jaws’ that summer with some friends – in fact I’ll never forget it. It reinforced my very strong fear of the water and especially the ocean.
What looks easy to the observer, however, often is just the opposite. This movie was fraught with disasters, cast and crew problems and weather complications filming on the open sea. As I watched all of this – my appreciation for a great film increased as was my admiration for the film’s young director, Steven Spielberg who was just 27 years old at the time.
Spielberg, in a very candid interview about his memories of making this film said this, “Everyday I was worried I would get fired – I thought it would finish me as a director – but I keep pushing on anyway” And push on he did – way over budget and past the breaking point for cast and crew many times. He worked well under the stress – even Richard Dreyfess said, “All Steven did was bite his nails” Well you know the rest – ‘Jaws’ brought many records that year and was the first of what we would call ‘blockbuster’ films of that era. What could have been Spielberg’s worst disaster – turned out to be his greatest achievement and his shining moment. All because he did not give up and give in to the negative – worked with integrity and finished it. A true masterpiece.
How many times have I been through a ‘Jaws’ season? Too many. But I have also learned something. Even in my darkest times as a human being – my true self comes out in a way in which I cannot hide. It is my true nature – my default setting. And often times what feels like my most disastrous season – may also be my finest moment.
Every ‘saint’ of the Bible went through their own ‘Jaws’ period at one time or another. What separated them from other people – was that they were people of faith and they trusted God – kept their heart right – and didn’t compromise who they were even when hit with hard times. They kept believing – kept hoping and kept loving.
Have you ever had a ‘Jaws’ season? A time when trouble came to you – hung on and wouldn’t let go? An illness or family problem that you just couldn’t brush aside – but that went on and on – forever? A stress or heartbreak that threatens to swallow you? Hang on. Don’t lose hope. Help is on the way. And though you cannot see it – there is a reason. And someday you will have the answers to the questions. The real you is being formed and shaped. There is a purpose for the pain.
Here is a song by Amy Grant that has always helped me when I’m hit with a difficult season.
Cover via Amazon
Every year our family watches the classic movie “To Kill A Mockingbird” – with Gregory Peck. It is a poignant story of life in a small southern town during the depression – and one man’s fight against racism and prejudice – during a time when it was not popular or politically correct.
It is also a love story. A love story between a single Father and his children. And a love story between an outcast of society – who lives next door – and his great love and protection for those children.
It is about misconception – prejudice – small mindedness and human nature – where fear is the motivating force. It is about hope and belief that things and people CAN be better and change.
I read the book many years ago – and even studied it in high school. It has many themes in it and is timeless in it’s simple message of love, life and hope.
The music composed in this movie is by Elmer Bernstein – and it is one of my very favorites. It is childlike – and yet haunting and beautiful at the same time – very emotional and deep. Below is the main theme from the movie. If you have not had the opportunity to see this great film – made in the early 60’s – I would encourage you to do so – you won’t regret it. It is our tradition to watch it every Halloween.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus Finch
Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever hear Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “You’re father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mocking bird.”