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Seeing the world with different eyes


Last updated 1/24/2008 at Noon

Helen Keller said: “I have often thought it would be a blessing if each human being were stricken blind and deaf for a few days at some time during his adult life. It would make him more appreciative of sight and the joys of sound.” Keller took us one step further, to marvel over what the human spirit can do.

When I was a freshman in college in Iowa, I met a most incredible man. He was a blind, Quaker pastor. My friend said to me, “I want you to meet my uncle who is blind.”

When I got to his home, I heard a hammer pounding upstairs. I asked, “Who is that?”

My friend said, “He’s my uncle.”

I said, “I thought you said he was blind.”

“He is!”

Guilford, the blind uncle, was converting the upstairs attic into a college room. With his Braille tape measure and his gift of touch, he was a superb carpenter. He also did all the plumbing. He said, “One thing I don’t work with is electricity.”

Two years later, I had a room at Guilford’s home with his wife, Iva. One evening I came home and he wasn’t in his chair. It was about 7pm and dark outside. I asked Iva, “Where’s Guilford?” She said, “He’s outside weeding the garden.”

This I had to see. He had the rows lined with a string and through feeling, he could tell which were weeds and which were not. Guilford also caned chairs, typed on a typewriter, read his Bible in Braille, and preached. He had a heart of gold and could see, not with his eyes, but his heart. God gave him new eyes to see.

One Sunday, his wife, Iva wasn’t feeling well so she asked me to drive him to church 50 miles away where he was preaching. I told her I needed a map.

She said, “You don’t need a map, Guilford will tell you how to get there.” He did. He knew every turn, every stop sign, every bridge. I was totally amazed.

After Iva died, I took my wife to visit Guilford in Hesper, Iowa. When we got there, he had potatoes in a pot on the stove and was cutting apples for a fruit salad. And he said, “I also baked you some bread.” His latest thing was: he learned to can fruits and vegetables!

God has given all of us an incredible gift of the spirit to rise above our limitations. Jesus took adversity and turned it into triumph.

“For God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)


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