One of this morning’s readings was focused on gratitude. It included the following quote:
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched—they must be felt with the heart. So much has been given me, I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied.” – Helen Keller
Helen Keller was an American author and educator who was blind and deaf. Her education and training represent an extraordinary accomplishment in the education of persons with these disabilities.
Now, I’d heard the first statement, but I’d never heard the second one, “So much has been given me, I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied.”
It is quite humbling for me to hear those words from a person who had such a challenging life after becoming blind and deaf at 19 months of age due to an illness (possibly scarlet fever) and was left with only the sense of touch as a means to communicate with others. With the tremendous help and dedication of her remarkable teacher Anne Sullivan, she graduated from Radcliffe College, the first deaf blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. She led a rich life, and wrote several books, co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union, and was responsible for many advances in public services to the handicapped. And although deaf and blind, she learned how to talk!
Learning more about this fascinating woman and her life has been inspiring. Helen was an ardent Swedenborgian, a Christian denomination influenced by the writings of Swedish Lutheran Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). Here again she was not in the mainstream. In her book “My Religion” she explains how her spirit found itself, searched for adequate interpretation of life, and found faith and hope and serenity.
So much has been given me too. However, if I ever find myself lacking gratitude, I will think of Helen Keller. I will remind myself of her remarkable life and achievements—including finding faith, hope, and serenity in the midst of her difficult circumstances.