On this day in 1887, Helen Keller received her eyes to see and ears to hear through the person of Anne Sullivan.
A healthy baby at birth, a devastating bout with scarlet fever when she was 18 months old cost Helen Keller her eyesight and hearing. She was born with eyes to see and ears to hear, but before she turned two had list both of those abilities.
The first few years of life with her disability were tough. Her parents didn’t know how to help her and she was frustrated with her own inability to communicate with her world.
Helen’s father was friends with Alexander Graham Bell, and it was on Mr. Bell’s recommendation that the family look for help for their daughter at the Perkins Institution for the Blind.
The Perkins Institution sent Anne Sullivan to live with the Keller Family, and it was her work with Helen that transformed this young girls life! Although the beginning of Anne’s work with Helen didn’t show much promise, a breakthrough happened one day while pumping water. Anne spelled out water on Helen’s hand as the water ran over it. Now she was able to interact with and understand her environment! Helen progressed rapidly after this, learning to read, write and speak through the different mediums available to her, and as she grew into adulthood, became increasingly aware of the plight of the disabled. She worked on advancing legislation for the disabled and encouraging people to work to better themselves. She wrote over a half dozen books, and traveled the world speaking about disability. Helen was the first deaf and blind person to earn a bachelors degree.
This story of Helen Keller is a great inspirational story. She had a lot of things to overcome, but she didn’t let that stop her. The quote at the beginning of this post emphasizes Helen’s spirit of adventure. She pushed hard, worked hard and didn’t let limiting beliefs hold her back. Helen didn’t do the things she did just for herself either, but worked tirelessly for the disabled, to try to provide the resources and environment in which other people with disabilities could thrive.
Most of us have eyes to see and ears to hear, but often we are too caught up in our own lives that we fail to see the needs around us. We fail to truly engage with the hurting people we encounter on a daily basis. For today I am going to leave you with a video of Brandon Heath called Give Me Your Eyes. This song reminds me of Helen Keller and also about how I need God’s help at times to really see and hear what is going on around me.