Thursday, July 9, 2009
Who will Lead Us Back to Awe and Wonder?
"My teacher is so near to me that I scarcely think of myself apart from her. "How much of my delight in all beautiful things is innate, and how much is due to her influence, I can never tell. I feel that her being is inseperable from my own, and that the footsteps of my life are in hers. All the best of me belongs to her - there is not a talent, or inspiration or a joy in me that has not been awakened by her loving touch."
- Helen Keller, "The Story of My Life"
Watching the movie, "Miracle Worker" always moves me to tears again and again. Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke portray this true life story of a young deaf and blind girl who has never experienced her world beyond the sense of touch. The relentless endurance and dedication of one young teacher is unlike any other I have ever read or heard about. The young Helen fights tooth and nail against the discipline and persistent repetitions that are required of her and runs away to the security of the outside world. This is usually the soft affection of her mother who pities and spoils her and wants to make it easy for her daughter. Annie Sullivan strives to make Helen completely dependent on her so that she can open up the realtionship between the inner world and the outer world to her pupil. She never allows herself to see anthing less than Helen's success. At one point in the movie, Annie thinks to herself and ponders the idea that if a young girl were buried alive, the whole town would do everythig they could to dig her out. She questions why no one can see Helen in the same way. Her own commitment to Helen is unflinching. Finally,after many more battles Helen suddenly begins to understand the value of being able to communicate her thoughts and learn about the life around her. Now, the young girl's joy knows no bounds. The ecstasy of her feelings find expression and Helen spends the rest of her life in awe and wonder of everything.
This is evident in the many books Helen later wrote. One of my favorites is "The story of My Life". Her profound journey lifts me and at the same time I feel questions arise:
Where are the teachers that will bring us back to awe and wonder? Where is it in me that I may embrace the success of another with such devotion as Annie Sullivan? With what courage and tenacity will the Song of my Heart bring forth its shining light? How many are yearning to be awakened to the beauty and wonder of living an authentic and rich purposeful life? How many will fight tooth and nail against this waking even though they want it with all their heart?
Profound words of encouragement are found in a poem written by a great Indian poet who articulates this exact sentiment in the following lines:
"So the storm still seeks its end in peace.
As it strikes peace with all its might.
Even thus my rebellion strikes against they love
And still its cry is "I want Thee" - Rabindranath Tagore, "I Want Thee"
As I place the dvd of Helen Keller's life back onto the shelf, I say a silent thank-you for Annie Sullivan who reminds us that "Love Never Fails".
May Love always guide your life and Vision.