I have many days at Lighthouse Central Florida because I am fortunate enough to work with an organization whose sole purpose is to help people…in the case of Lighthouse, helping people with vision loss or blindness. Today was particularly special and I am not sure why this day would be more inspiring than the other days, but it was…and I am mindful enough to not question why, but to simply say thank you.
Today, the program office, where a bulk of our services are delivered, was bustling with enthusiasm, happiness and brimming with courage and a palpable energy that evoked the words, “today, nothing is going to stand in my way.” As I milled around the program areas, watching people navigate the halls and work areas without sight, I was taken aback by the idea that I was surrounded by people who have lost, or are dramatically losing, their ability to see – let me repeat that – LOST OR LOSING THEIR ABILITY TO SEE. And yet, in the face of this harsh reality, I was amidst laughter and reckoning and purity and the spirit of truly helping people…all people helping all people…and I was moved.
One instance in particular symbolically captured the energy of day. There was a fragile, elderly lady attending the ILS (Independent Living Skills class) who seemed to be very afraid, yet courageous with her predicament of total vision loss. You could tell she felt out of her natural element, not knowing what was around her, what food was on her plate, where the bathroom was or how to even use a bathroom that she was unfamiliar with. All the little details we are able to see and process within a split second of eye sight became challenges of epic proportions to this woman, but still, in the face of fear, she courageously kept moving forward in her determination to re-learn all the basics of life once offered through sight. Her soft voice constantly apologizing for needing help, or even having to ask for it…and the graciousness she expressed when she received that help – nothing life saving mind you, but the simplicity of softly asking what type of food was on her plate and what type of chips might be in her lunch box.
I know that you, as a members of the general public, are constantly bombarded with anecdotes and stories from nonprofit groups asking for donations, or to help out with this or that, and for the most part we are good as a society that recognize the daily gifts given to us and are able to give back. But then there are those moments, like today, when all the anecdotes and all the tag-lines and all the marketing blah blah blah clears away and you are left, staring into the blind eyes of a woman who is asking you, with all her pride and humility, to help her get through one particular moment in time, one particular task so that she can continue her journey…that is what makes us all stop for a moment and make the choice to lend a helping hand…that is the kind of moment you should notice, welcome and savor whenever you have the chance.
I know days like today do not happen all the time and I know that I will soon become consumed with all the other little moments that string along into night and into the next day, but for now, in this moment, I will take the time to try and understand what I experienced today from the perspective of this kind, elderly woman…I will now close my eyes and imagine that they will never open again.
Don't believe me? Come and see for yourself at one of Lighthouse Central Florida’s “In the Blink of an Eye Tour” – you will not regret it.