Hellen Keller: a woman of great courage and an incredible inspiration to us all. At age two she suffered a serious illness that was believed to be scarlet fever and it left Keller completely blind and deaf. Keller spent the next few years of her childhood struggling to learn and connect to the world and those around her. During this period, Keller would throw tantrums as she recalled the sounds she remembered as an infant and soon felt isolated by darkness and silence. Keller’s family tried to admit her in schools and hospitals for the blind but was turned down due to her seemingly inability to understand. Seeking help, Hellen’s parents thought to put her in an asylum but instead sought out the well-known inventor Alexander Graham Bell, who had previously experimented with hearing devices. Without further ado, Bell encouraged the Kellers to contact the Perkins Institute of the Blind to find a teacher who could teach Keller. On March 3, 1887 Keller met the lady who would soon change her life forever: “The Miracle Worker” Anne Sullivan. The first time Sullivan met Keller, Sullivan brought Keller a doll as a gift and immediately began signing the word D-O-L-L into her hand hoping to make a connection between the two. Months went by as Sullivan worked non-stop with Keller. This was very difficult for Sullivan as Keller would become very frustrated and throw many tantrums. Still, Sullivan refused to give up on Keller and continued to work with her. Sullivan even moved herself and Keller into a cottage on the Keller’s property to continue the close connection.
On this day, 130 years ago at a water pump, Keller made a breakthrough when Keller made the association with a word and an object. Instead of provoking her to learn through harsh discipline, Sullivan, unlike Keller’s parents, waited to see Kellers reaction through her natural instincts when she discovered water. Continually signing the word “W-A-T-E-R” in the palm of Kellers hand, it was on this day Keller not only learned the word water but also watched the world bloom with more meaning as she associated words to objects. After this moment, Keller demanded Sullivan to teach her other words also. Keller learned 30 words that day. Anne Sullivan through much patience and believing that “obedience without understanding is blindness, too,” allowed her to do the impossible by helping someone who seemed so far out of reach from the world to become one of the most remarkable women in history.
A great lesson can be taken from the connection between Keller and Sullivan, and that lesson is to never give up on someone you love and care about no matter how far out of reach they may seem. It is important to always reach out to them either in prayer or by being there for them in their time of need. In today’s world there are so many advances in technology to help us connect to others quickly with so many devices. However, 130 years ago those advantages were non-existent for Sullivan who only hoped to build a connection to Keller through perseverance, determination and patience. These things are most uncommon in today’s fast paced world. I personally believe the issue we have created is that we expect people to change their habits overnight, but it requires time. As we can tell in some cases like Keller and Sullivan, its not quite as simple as sending a text, email or phone call to make that connection. Instead, it just might take lots of trust in the Lord, lots of prayer, faith, determination, and time before you finally see a breakthrough to see the impossible become possible. Circumstances may appear drastically different from Keller and Sullivan, but how many of us have felt like Anne Sullivan in one way or another when trying to reach out to someone we know and care deeply about? Trying to make any sort of connection to them seems impossible to make and the closer we get the further away they seem and the more frustrated they become with you.
What will the “water pump” moment be for you and this individual? The only way to ever find out is by never giving up on them….or yourself.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” ~ Helen Keller