Over the past week or so I have been thankful for the little bit of Auslan I have learned from Donna and Bruce Worrall (a deaf couple in our church.) When there has been too much soreness to allow me to talk, I have resorted to sign language – a blessed gift at a time such as these past couple of weeks have been. But it has not all been plain sailing.
They say you never really get to know someone until you walk a mile in their shoes. I have learned over these past weeks to appreciate the struggles which people like Donna and Bruce have to live with daily. I am in deeper admiration of their perseverance and grace.
On a handful of public occasions, I have found myself instinctively resorting to Auslan when my throat has begun to fail. The response of people has been instructive. I have been greeted with quizzical looks, while other people have literally stepped back, not sure what the use of my hands in conversation meant. On other occasions there has been increased frustration at my inability to make myself understood. How isolating an experience it can be.
Communication is a two-way street, yet it has become evident that many people expect the speaker to do the bulk of the work in ensuring that communication happens. When – for one reason or another – that does not happen at first instance, many “listeners” walk away deeming the problem to lie in the speaker. Yet this hides a deeper internal problem most of us carry – the lack of belief that there is something beautiful to discover in every person we meet.
If we truly believe that each person we meet bears a unique imprint of the hand of God, we would be more willing to listen, more willing to spend time with them, more willing to encourage them in order that this beauty might be nurtured and realised in them. Instead to leave them to their own devices pushes them back into an isolating and discouraging world.
But our busy-ness is a major enemy. We are in such a rush – for whatever reason – that we fail to see the beautiful which comes to us in the ordinary moments. That we are repulsed by difference, and so fail to see its beauty.
In the quietness of these past two weeks, I am thankful for two very special people who have given me much.
December 2, 2001