I visited Ivy Green, birthplace of Helen Keller, on a recent trip to Tuscumbia, Alabama. I grew up not far from there and have always loved the story of how her teacher, Annie Sullivan, worked so hard with this “wild child” to set her free from the prison of darkness and silence. Helen’s life, as depicted in The Miracle Worker (both play and film versions), was beyond remarkable.
Holy darkness, blessed night
heaven’s answer hidden from our sight.
As we await you, O God of silence,
we embrace your holy night.
I have tried you in fires of affliction;
I have taught your soul to grieve.
In the barren soil of your loneliness,
there I will plant my seed.*
It inspires me over and over again to think of the sheer grit it took to live the kind of lives both Helen and Annie (and later, Polly Thompson, Helen’s secretary) lived. How many among us would have such courage? And yet, it is in the silence and in the darkness, that God works his own miracles.
* from Holy Darkness by Dan Schutte