Thursday, August 12, 2010

my joy.


A moment to add, to my list of most treasured.

At a conference this week I met a man who is deaf, blind, and paralyzed from the waist. All of this caused by a severe case of meningitis which he caught through pollen on a tree he was cutting down...two years ago. One minute his life was normal, two children, beautiful wife...director of a camp...now he is utterly alone, in a dark place - confined to the prison of his mind. When I heard his story, I felt deep ache.

We were all given papers tucked within our programs with the simple sign-language alphabet printed out, if we wished to try and communicate with him. I so badly wanted to. I watched him with his family...but feeling unsure, and not really knowing him, I stayed away. On the last night of the conference there was a banquet, and he was wheeled to the end of our table. I'm not sure how it happened, but I found him sitting only an empty chair away from me. And I knew it was my chance. I picked up my signing-guide paper and moved seats, striking up a conversation with his cousin, the lady across from him. His wife was feeling sick, so his first cousin and her husband were eating with him. I asked her if I could talk to him, and she agreed quickly, though surprised. It was awkward at first. I told him my name - but new to signing, it was slow going. I told him where I was from, where I worked. I wasn't sure if he wanted the conversation to end, and I didn't really know what to say...so I ended it, keeping it short.

In my seat-away I heard him say "thank you God" as he sat before his plate of food, and I continued to watch him as he struggled to eat bite, by bite. Something about the sad loneliness of it all began to tear at me inside. As soon as I saw he was finished eating I jumped back to the seat near him, picked up his hand, and began again to talk to him. I would sign a letter, he would say the letters out loud and say the word once I had formed one. I would squeeze his hand twice to say "yes" if he was right. I don't know how the conversation changed, but instead of small talk I began asking him very honest questions and began sharing with him things I had felt and learned in New Zealand. I was completely absorbed in what turned out to be one of the most amazing & uplifting conversations I have ever had. I wish my words were less general, to explain it better.

He shared with me gut-wrenching loneliness. Surrounded by people, but completely alone."Most people are too afraid to try talking to me" he said quietly. I asked him how he could keep trusting God. He answered, "Because His promises are true." I told him New Zealand was sometimes very lonely and he said, "I bet. Away from your family and friends. I understand - and you can understand my loneliness...yes I understand very well." and I knew he did, I knew he truly did.

He gripped my hand, and said, "Everything will fight to convince you that God doesn't care. It will come at you, bombard you, and try and convince you."

As he continued on I felt somewhat in awe, and I told him I wanted a deeper - more withstanding faith, like I saw in him. He said to me, "Ask God for it. And don't be superficial with God, He doesn't want our games - He only cares about heart things, He just wants your honest heart."

An hour later, our conversation neared an end as the banquet was concluding and he held tightly to my hand thanking me over and over again, with a tear-filled voice for talking with him. I signed to him..."my joy"...because truly, it was.

That night I went to sleep with a heart full-to-bursting.

God is good, and He will forever be, good.

3 comments:

Jill (and Craig) said...

grace, that's an amazing story.

take care over there,

-jill

Christa said...

Every time I read your blog, I feel as though I need to go somewhere to think and pray for hours on end.

Sometimes I do.

Thanks for sharing with full honesty yet again. Love you.

hbradford said...

Grace, not everyone would have initiated that conversation. I'm so glad the HS gave you the courage to. You were blessed!!