What is so sweet as to awake from a troubled dream and behold a beloved face smiling upon you? My soul is for the moment bowed down with grief when I cease to feel the touch of their hands or hear a tender word from them; but the light of faith never fades from my sky. I have to believe that such shall be our awakening from earth to heaven. (Helen Keller’s quote cited in her eulogy given by Senator Lister Hill)
Funerals have been on my mind of late. We’ve had a number of deaths in our congregation of late, and in the extended families of church members. Some of the funerals we have been responsible for have been quite challenging, in that they were premature deaths … at least from the perspective of those who cherished the deceased. One was the result of an accident, and the other the result of an overdose. Almost every time I have a funeral I wander through the book from which this quote comes … Farewell, Godspeed: the greatest Eulogies of our Time, edited by Cyrus M. Copeland. As I read through some of the eulogies last week, this small fragment caught my eye.
There are so many remarkable things about Helen Keller’s life, that one hesitates to single out any one piece in particular. But I loved a statement that her eulogist, Senator Hill, wrote in his own comments … “Although she was denied the light of day, Helen Keller cast more of the radiance of heaven than any person one earth.” What a beautiful way to describe the “inner eye” that Keller had for beauty in the world, and her marvelous ability to share the vision of that beauty with others. Overcoming odds of monumental proportions, with the help of Anne Sullivan Macy, Keller gradually was able to engage a world that without tremendous effort might have remained hidden from her till her death.
Keller’s life is one that helps me keep my own issues and priorities in order. Just when I want to whine a bit about how complicated my schedule is, or how critical persons can sometimes be, or how frustrated I may feel with a particular problem, I am driven to remember someone of Helen Keller’s stature. Someone who overcame serious obstacles and adversities to enjoy just a slice of big and beautiful world which is fully accessible to me every single day. Talk about humbling.
As you pray this week, consider the nagging sin of whining, and the gracious gift of adoration which God offers to us, and with which we can do battle against our sin. Consider the insidious sin of complaining, and the gracious gift of praise which God offers us, and with which we can do battle against our sin. Consider the damaging sin of gossip, and the gracious gift of respect which God offers us, and with which we can do battle against our sin. It is sometimes so easy to allow the challenges of life to get you down, and to add to them with harsh or critical words. Why not try attempting to respond to challenges with words that counter the darkness with something that is filled with light. If Helen Keller could see it in the world, we certainly can.