I’m sure you have heard of the famous Helen Keller who was an outstanding example of a person who conquered major physical handicaps. A serious illness at the age of two destroyed her sight and hearing so she was unable to speak, and was entirely shut off from the world. But she did learn to write and speak well enough to graduate from college with honors. She rose above her disabilities to become internationally famous as a noted lecturer and author, and to help handicapped people to live fuller lives.
I was reminded of her spectacular accomplishments under the most severe handicaps, when I read an essay which she wrote and published more than 70 years ago. The article is entitled “Three Days to See.” Helen thought “it might be a blessing if each human being were struck blind and deaf for a few days at some time during his early adult life. Darkness would make him more appreciative of sight; silence would teach him the joys of sound.”
She commented that she occasionally tested her seeing friends to discover what they saw. One friend who had just returned from a long walk in the woods replied that she had seen “nothing in particular!” Helen wondered how it could be possible to walk for an hour through the woods and see nothing worthy of note, when she could find hundreds of things to interest her through mere touch. Helen imagined what she should like most to see if given the use of her eyes for just three days.
On the first day, she would see “people whose kindness and companionship” had made her life worth living; “look into the heart of a friend through that ‘window of the soul,’ the eye,” and the expression of her countenance. She spoke of catching a vision of the “eager, innocent beauty of a baby;” “the loyal, trusting eyes of her dogs;” the books that had been read to her; take in the “beauties of the world of nature, and the glory of a colorful sunset.”
The next day she would “arise with the dawn and witness the thrilling miracle by which night is transformed into day,” and “behold with awe the magnificent panorama of light with which the sun awakens the sleeping earth.” She would visit museums to see the “pageant of man’s progress through the centuries – the condensed history of the earth.” Then she would take in the Museum of Art and look upon the paintings and sculptures of the masters that hitherto she had known only by touch. She would attend a theater to see the fascinating performance of a famous opera.
The following morning she would again greet the dawn, ready to spend the day in the workaday world, watching people to try to “understand something of their daily lives;” “taking in the kaleidoscope of color;” visit the workplaces, and the parks where children play, her “eyes open wide to all the sights of both happiness and misery ” so that she might “probe deep and add to her understanding of how people work and live.” In the evening, before the permanent darkness returned, she might take in a hilariously funny play so that she might “appreciate the overtones of comedy in the human spirit.”
Helen was sure that if we knew that we were about to be struck blind, we would use our eyes as never before. Everything we saw would become dear to us. Our eyes would touch and embrace every object that came within our range of vision. Then, at last, we would really see, and a new world of beauty would open itself before us. And I think she was right!
If this is true of our physical sight, it is also true of our spiritual sight. How long do we travel through life without seeing “anything in particular” in the realm of the spiritual realities? I think we do not fully comprehend that we are essentially spirit beings living in temporary human bodies, and it is possible to experience insight that Paul calls “the eyes of the understanding.”
In his letter to the Church at Ephesus, Paul fervently prayed “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power…..” (Eph. 1:17-19)
In our own modern speech, we often say, “I see!” or “Don’t you see?” meaning “understand” or “comprehend.” The Scriptures frequently use eyesight as a symbol of understanding. The second time Jesus saw the opportunity to feed a great crowd of people, the disciples couldn’t fathom how, even though he had miraculously provided for over 5,000 only a short time before. His response was, “Having eyes do you not see?….How is it that you do not understand?” (Mark 8:18)
The Psalmist prayed, .. “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law.”
In the words of an old hymn, we pray:
Open my eyes – that I may see – glimpses of truth – Thou hast for me,
Place in my hands the wonderful key that shall unclasp and set me free.
Open my ears – that I may hear – voices of truth – Thou sendest clear;
And while the wavenotes fall on my ear, ev’rything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for Thee, – ready, my God, Thy will to see;
Open my eyes…..my ears…..my heart; illumine me, Spirit Divine!
“The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, ENLIGHTENING the EYES.” (Psalm 19:8)
“And we know the Son of God has come and has given us UNDERSTANDING, that we may KNOW HIM Who is true…” (1 John 5:20)
“Now the God of all HOPE
fill you with all JOY and PEACE in the believing,
that you may abound in HOPE
through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
In Agape, Eulene