Thursday, August 29, 2013

Keep Your Face to the Sun

"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It's what sunflowers do."

                                                                                                                          -Helen Keller

Reading aloud is a critical part of our home teaching day.  I love the moments when the older guys are drawn into the story we are reading, moving away from whatever they were doing in another part of the house to come listen as I read aloud to our youngest.

We are beginning this school year reading an autobiography by Helen Keller. Over and over again she uses words like see or listen or look or notice or visible beauty. A woman, blind and deaf. Sometimes, as we are reading, I have to comment on a sentence, to stop and realize that the author can neither see nor hear, yet she describes "the shimmering light of a Christmas tree," or "the noisy-throated frogs."

In June, I read The Music of Silence, an autobiography by Andrea Bocelli, a popular Italian singer, blind from age twelve. One of his teachers, "Dr. Marcuccio, also blind from an accident...had explained that even darkness was a visual sensation, and therefore, a perogative of those who have the gift of sight. 'The blind,' he added, 'cannot see darkness, just like the deaf cannot hear silence, which is an auditory sensation, the antithesis of sound.'"

Those of us with the gift of sight still need to learn to see. Even with the gift of hearing, we need to learn to listen.

 Helen Keller described the smell of an incoming thunderstorm. Do you know that scent? She described a scene, meeting people in a crowded room, shaking hands with "frosty finger tips, it seemed as if I were shaking hands with a northeast storm. Others...whose hands have sunbeams in them, so that their grasp warms my heart. It may be only the clinging touch of a child's hand; but there is as much potential sunshine in it for me as there is in a loving glance for others." Have you felt such awareness to touch?

 As a child, she loved the orchard, collecting apples and fuzzy peaches in her apron, the taste still warmed by the sun. Reading this autobiography aloud, together, gives us many opportunities to discuss the five senses and the beauty of our world. This gift, this perspective, seen through the eyes of a blind woman, gives us a deeper appreciation for the riches around us.

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