We see every day people who are vision, deaf and speech impaired. We witness the impact on the person, family, friends and society. With their presence, we experience it.
Being with them, they provide insights living in the dark and without sound. I thought they are far better than us.
The first time I saw him was at the church. He can understand sign language by feeling the hand gestures of the volunteer who translates what’s going on during the mass. This made me realize that he is deaf, mute and blind.
What is it like to live a life without sight, without hearing, without speech? It is difficult for me to imagine. Can he feel that I am looking at him?
I see him walking with the dog. Should I say the seeing dog is walking him? He walks faster than me and with confidence. He walks to the train station that is at least five blocks away, takes the bus and I don’t know where he is heading. This is my neighbor.
I wanted very much to communicate with him that I took sign language lessons.
One day, I was walking behind him when the dog wanted to relieve. He sensed the dog’s agitation, unleashed the dog, let the dog walked in circles, he stood there waiting for the dog to finish, when the dog was finished, he took out a plastic bag from his back pack.
I took this opportunity to approach him and offer my help to pick up feces.
Touched him gently so as not to startle him. An inaudible word came out of his lips. I did not know how to respond and I let him pick up the waste. He was feeling the ground for a mound of warm soft spot and finally he felt it, placed it in the bag, twisted the bag, leashed the dog and started walking again with the waste on his hand.
Plenty of blue plastic bags with waste littered all over the place thrown away by people with sight. If a blind person can find a garbage bin, how can’t a person with full vision find the nearest waste disposal? This is another mystery to me.
He trusts the guide dog. The dog walks him at a normal pace and sometimes walks slow when there is traffic to cross. I wonder what it’s like to totally trust a dog? Is it the same trust as his faith in God? Is dog God spelled backwards?
Not only that, he is very helpful. I saw him with another blind person in tow holding his stick. It was literally the blind leading the blind. Is this his small pleasures in life regardless of his lack of vision to be of service to humanity?
This is the greatest act I’ve witnessed. It takes me completely out of myself. The dreary existence of my everyday life can be an effort to even go out. Thinking about him cast a light to shine in my soul. It’s heartwarming, it’s delightful, and it’s frightening all at the same time. He made me realized what there is really to see. In the end, it doesn’t really matter if I remain incognito and nobody notices me for as long as my God sees me.
Do you see what I mean? It is certainly eye-opening for me.God pursues me everywhere,
Enmeshes me in glances,
And blinds my sightless back like flaming sun.
—Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel from “Human, God’s Ineffable Name,”