Living with a purpose: Keep your face to the sun
By Bill Holland
We all have problems occasionally and there are times when we feel like we’ve been punched in the gut.
I felt like this a couple of months ago when one morning I went into my office to start the day and my computer would not wake up. I realize that hard drive failures are not the worst things that could happen, but for someone who writes several hours a day, it’s discouraging to say the least, but in the big picture of crisis issues, this is actually pretty far down the list.
As I grow older, I want to be more grateful for my blessings and this includes the hope of good health. My good friend who is being treated for lung cancer is still sending out his morning updates and always closes with a series of positive affirmations such as, “Attitude for gratitude” and “Live within the light.”
I know that he is being shown precious wisdom as he travels through his journey and he’s quick to testify about his appreciation for each day. I’m not sure who said it, but it’s so true to consider: “When some things go wrong, take a moment to be thankful for the many things that are going right.”
Within our observations, we realize that in comparison with others who are dealing with serious problems many of our troubles and disappointments are small. Even more amazing, there are a few individuals that have not only been able to adapt to devastating situations but have went on to excel and achieve astounding accomplishments.
One of these special cases is Helen Keller (1880-1968), who was blind and deaf yet she grew up to become a famous inspirational author, political activist, and relentless crusader for the rights of the disabled.
She was a highly sensitive truth seeker who took great delight in sharing her passion for knowledge and spirituality. Helen was born in Tuscumbia, Ala.; and for her first year and a half, she was just like any other child, however, at the age of 19 months, she became ill with what many suspect was scarlet fever or perhaps meningitis.
The Keller family doctor did not believe she would survive; but after several days, her fever subsided and everyone was relieved. Unfortunately, as little Helen recuperated, they were saddened to discover that she had been left totally blind and deaf as a result of the illness.
Medical tests confirmed that she could not see any light or objects, and her ears could not conduct sound at all. To have a small glimpse of the world in which she lived, close your eyes and put your fingers in your ears. It is truly difficult to imagine living with no sight or sound.
For those who have seen the movie “The Miracle Worker,” we remember how her tutor Anne Sullivan poured water over Helen’s hand while spelling the word on her other palm. Helen is quoted, “It was as if I had come back to life after being dead! I understood what my teacher was saying, that the cold liquid that was rushing over my hand was water, and that it was possible for me to communicate with other people by these hand signs. It was a wonderful day, never to be forgotten.”
Another important person in her life was a man named John Hitz whom Helen respectfully called “the foster father of her soul.” He introduced her to the religious teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg and this ignited her spiritual hunger to know more about God and the Bible.
Helen Keller was the first deaf and blind person to earn a college degree, from Radcliffe, no less, from which she graduated cum laude in 1904 with a bachelor of arts degree. She was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.
In 1999 her name appeared on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most important figures of the 20th century, alongside such iconic figures as Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King and the Wright brothers.
One of her many famous quotes is “Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.”
So how did Helen become such a strong force of optimism and positive energy? She learned to accept her limitations with grace and even joy, because within her heart she knew they had a purpose and that, in fact, her life could be made all the richer not despite them but because of them.