To Speak Normally

Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan (please watch)

I watched this video yesterday and was mesmerized by Helen Keller’s capacity to grasp her teacher’s every move.  I was even more taken aback by Anne Sullivan’s ability to communicate with someone who was deaf, blind, and non-verbal.  But even though she understood her teacher completely, and even after a lifetime of study, Helen was unable to clearly verbally communicate in the way she had always hoped.

“It is not blindness or deafness that bring me my darkest hours,” she told us, “it is the acute disappointment in not being able to speak normally. 

In some ways, I understand her regret completely.

As hard as we try, we can never articulate God’s infinite love exactly, which, as believers, may be our most potent regret when this life is over.

But we try.

We place our thumb on God’s throat to feel the vibrations of his hard G.  We place our first finger on his lips to feel the buh of the B…the T and the P.  We lay our second finger across the bridge of his nose and feel the NG sound buzzing beneath it.  And in time, we understand every word he says.

We know the words, and even comprehend what they mean.  He has been the most fascinating teacher…thorough and patient until things have become perfectly clear to us.  But each time we attempt to replicate his sounds, there’s a bit of gibberish to it.

Our hearts are good and our capacity for hope is strong, but our mouths are inconsistent (at best) in their cooperation.  We assume that we’ve kept the purity of the vowels – that the vowels of grace, love, respect, and the high regard of our brothers and sisters are exactly as they should be.  But our vowels are not pure.  They are muddled, unintelligible, and at times incomprehensible.

But we keep at it, hoping eventually to say the words accurately.  Hoping they will fall on the hearts of those straining to take them in – those longing to be loved.

So once again we place our fingers in position – we touch his lips, his throat, and lay our second finger across the bridge of his nose.  We feel even harder  this time, for the flutters of his mouth, the breaths, the separations and vibrations that compose the message of his love we all long to hear.  It will always be an uphill battle to get it right, but it’s okay.

We do our best, which is always enough.  Because what they can’t hear in our words – our incoherent rationalizations and garbled justifications, they will see on our faces and feel in our touch.  What they can’t make out in our ramblings, will beat in our hearts.

Oh God, let it be.

Our words are not clear, they never will be…because the sounds of his love will never properly fit into our mouths .  Even so, we must never stop trying to speak normally.

“Longingly I feel how much more good I could have done if I had acquired normal speech. But out of this sorrowful experience, I understand more fully all human tragedies, thwarted ambitions, and the infinite capacity of hope.” -Helen Keller

Another video and her own words of calling to use her life for good.

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