When I was a little girl, my paternal grandmother lost her sight. I remember things being hard for her at first, but she had a wonderful attitude. She began taking classes in Braille in Los Angeles. Although she died nearly a decade before I experienced the same loss, she was a wonderful example for me when I underwent such a similar experience. "If Grandma could do it," I would think, "well so can I."
My grandmother was very independent and we were very close. It was she who taught me to cook and bake, something I love to do. Neither of us could know it at the time, but those hours together, those lessons, became the model for my own future.
Who says our lives are random, and without a plan? Perhaps all the days we are living through are just preparation and training for the days to come.
After I lost my sight, I began going to classes at the Braille Institute in Anaheim, California. It was strange to be relearning my ABCs, and to be thrilled with myself when I could read a short paragraph! Only a year before, I had been a Montessori teacher, helping 5- and 6-year-olds to do the same thing; yes, it was humbling.
In my "mobility" classes, I learned the technique of using a white cane to get around independently. I learned to work with a "Sighted Guide" -- a person who will lead someone without sight by having the blind person take their elbow, to walk in tandem.
You have to work as a team, trusting the sighted person to move with you safely from place to place. I don't need to have the sighted person tell me right, or left. I feel the movement. It is helpful, though, if my partner will wait at the top or bottom of a step or stairs. As you might imagine, it is also really helpful if they tell me it is "step" or "steps." There is a big difference between the singular and the plural!
I also learned to work with a Guide Dog, which helped me to do almost anything I wanted to do, and go wherever I wanted to go. These dogs become a part of you -- an extension of oneself and a member of the family, but the partnership takes some practice and some cooperation and some trust. And mutual love.
It is like that with God, too. Working with God is a partnership that requires practice, cooperation, trust, and love that is mutual.
Amusingly, I was given insight about that on one particular occasion. I had a bad ear infection and, because of insurance purposes, went to a new clinic, one I was unfamiliar with. On the doctor's orders, the nurse put a thick liquid into my ears, and then cotton balls. There I was, totally blind and barely able to hear her when she said, "Follow me . . ."
Before I could say, "Can I take your arm?" she was gone. I took Mocha's [my dog] harness and said "follow," and we were off, too! I had to completely trust Mocha to follow the right person, and to get me to the right place. We wound around hallways, turning several times, and bless her, she got me where I was supposed to go; I was so grateful to her!
That taught me a lesson not only about trusting my sweet Mocha, but about trusting the Lord.
Sometimes we are all a little blind. We can't see where we are going, and only can trust that we will get to the right place we need to be in our life. And when we get there, we have to realize it, and be thankful!
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, St. Paul says, "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
We can trust that. It seems like God has used the hardest experiences in my life to bring me the greatest blessings. I met my wonderful husband because I lost my sight. He offered to drive this blind woman to a church group, just because he was a nice guy and my house was on his way. We hit it off right away, and became good friends before we dated. Four years later, we were married.
My family and many of the friendships I treasure have come about because I have trusted enough to reach out -- at church or Bible study -- to see if anyone could give me a ride, and I have been willing to do whatever little thing I can do, be it helping with meals, or babysitting, to reciprocate the kindness of others.
Helping my sightless grandmother in the kitchen, all those years ago, I could never have imagined that someday I would be willing to give thanks for these circumstances -- from blindness, to the work of relearning basic skills, through a difficult, painful divorce from a first marriage and into sheer trust and great love. I am so grateful, every day, for my husband, my family, the very good friends the Lord has brought into my life, in such a strange and beautiful way.
11/26/2010 5:00:00 AM