December 7, 2008

Helen Keller. The most important day in her life.

Helen Keller at work in her study
Photograph by A. Marshall, 1902.

The most important day I remember in all my life is the one on which my teacher, Anne Mansfield Sullivan, came to me. I am filled with wonder when I consider the immeasurable contrasts between the two lives which it connects. It was the third of March, 1887, three months before I was seven years old.

On the afternoon of that eventful day, I stood on the porch, dumb, expectant. I guessed vaguely from my mother's signs and from the hurrying to and fro in the house that something unusual was about to happen, so I went to the door and waited on the steps. The afternoon sun penetrated the mass of honeysuckle that covered the porch, and fell on my upturned face. My fingers lingered almost unconsciously on the familiar leaves and blossoms which had just come forth to greet the sweet southern spring. I did not know what the future held of marvel or surprise for me. Anger and bitterness had preyed upon me continually for weeks and a deep languor had succeeded this passionate struggle.

Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen? I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without compass or sounding-line, and had no way of knowing how near the harbour was. "Light! give me light!" was the wordless cry of my soul, and the light of love shone on me in that very hour.

I felt approaching footsteps. I stretched out my hand as I supposed to my mother. Some one took it, and I was caught up and held close in the arms of her who had come to reveal all things to me, and, more than all things else, to love me.

Helen Keller

Helen Keller
and her teacher Anne Mansfield Sullivan.

Affectionately yours. Helen Keller
Photograph by A. Marshall, 1899.

Helen Keller and her dog Phiz
Photograph by Emily Stokes, 1902.

The above words written by Helen Keller are a testimony about the extraordinary importance of finding and having the right teacher at the right moment. This literally can change our life. Helen Keller's life changed for the better after she met her great teacher, Anne Mansfield Sullivan.

I think "a teacher" can take many forms: a writer, a philosopher, a speaker, a preacher... even a friend, a relative or an acquaintance. And can take also the form of a book or other texts (sacred or otherwise), an audiobook... even the situations of life can act as teachers. Even animals can teach us many useful things.

If a TEACHER appears in our life, that means we have a great opportunity to improve it. Helen Keller recognized her teacher, Anne Mansfield Sullivan, and knew how to take advantage of this great opportunity. And so thanks to this fact and her extraordinary qualities her life was wonderful, extraordinary, a blessing for manking and an example for all of us.

Certainly Helen Keller can be for us a wonderful teacher.

Juan Bielsa