I met a man who identified himself only by his disability.  Young and blind, he has a child he has never seen with his own eyes.  He lives in a world driven and defined by light, shape and color; a world of height, width, depth and time.  He lives in a world of the four dimensions, but cannot see any of those visible lines which make earth the world of sight, and which can so easily imprison the blind; or at least their hearts.  And so, trapped as he is in certain iron-clad limitations, he came to see himself only in terms of tragedy.

He told me, with deep sadness, that he was of no use to his child.  He believed that he could never play with her properly, could never be the father that she needed; a father with working eyes who could watch her in the sunlight, who could play with her freely and wildly as fathers want to do.  He could see only one thing, and it wasn’t light or his child; he could see only what he did not have, only what he could never be.

But it is the common fate of us all.  We seldom see ourselves for what we are.  We are far too busy seeing ourselves for what we are not.  In the realm of the material, we are convinced that we are not wealthy enough, or that we are not bright enough.  We believe our actions and works are worthless, and that we would be useful only if we had the talents and gifts of others all around us, who seem so bright and shiny.  Even in the world of the spirit, we see ourselves only as sinners, only as the inadequate; seldom as the unique children of a God who loves us whoever we may be, whatever our strengths our failures.

So it’s no surprise that, born into a world where humans see only their limitations, my young, blind friend fights a constant battle with despair.  He feels stricken, weakened, and pointless.  But there is good news.  He has a chance to be something great for his child.  That young man, whose eyes are no longer tunnels of light, can live in all four dimensions just as surely as the rest of us do.   And what he sees as weakness can become an unimaginable gift.

Because, when his daughter is in his arms, he will know her by touch.  He will know every contour, every joint, every bone, every rash, every scar by the feel of his loving hand.  The transformation of her skin from baby to adult will pass beneath his sensing fingers, and his mind will catalog all of it.

He will know the way she shakes with laughter and the way she heaves with sobs.  He will feel her grow, and will, without any need for sight, be the comfortable place she comes when she is tired or happy, sad or thrilled.

When his daughter enters the room, he will know the sound of her footfall as surely as he would know the color of her eyes.  Her breath will be as clear to him as the light on her hair would be, and the tones of her voice will betray as much as her facial expressions could ever reveal.

He will delight in the smell of her freshly shampooed hair and washed skin.  He will know the smell of her breath when she is ill and the smell of her summer skin when she is glistening with childhood sweat.  And the taste of her cheeks will be sweet to him when he kisses her good morning and good night.  The taste of her tears will fill him with love and mercy.

My friend, if he desires, can know his child in ways the sighted seldom explore.  More to the point, his love need not be restricted by the senses, or their absence.  If he chooses, then his children will remember him, not for his closed eyes but for his open heart.   And they will know him as a man courageous enough to walk around his perceptions of what he was not, in order to embrace all that he is.

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