Sermon Illustrations

She was nearly blind. She was born on April 14, 1866 to Irish immigrants. Life was hard and from the age of three her vision began to fail. To add insult to injury, Annie’s mother died at when she was eight to tuberculosis. Her younger two sisters were farmed out to relatives. Annie tried to care for her father by herself. But at the age of nine, she was sent to Massachusetts State Poorhouse in Tewksberry. He poor vision, though, became a blessing in disguise and at the age of fourteen a new institute welcomed her into their open arms, the Perkins Institute for the blind.

Six years later, Annie at the age of twenty would graduate from college. Then on March 3, 1887, Annie stepped from a train into a small town in Alabama where she was met by a young mother named Kate. Kate had a daughter who had been born with all of her senses but at the age of nineteen months she had become deaf and blind. Kate’s daughter was named Helen.

So began the fascinating story of a teacher who was almost blind, who opened the world to a seven year old child, who couldn’t see, who couldn’t speak, who couldn’t hear. Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller would be inseparable in life. It was indeed, the blind leading the blind.

In fact they would even be united in death for in Washington Cathedral, along with presidents, life Woodrow Wilson and his wife, Edith, there would be a special chapel reserved for them and there Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller would be buried in that chapel, together in Washington’s Cathedral.

It was long after Annie’s death that Helen Keller spoke at a ceremony at Radcliffe College where she had gone and received her degree. That day a fountain was being dedicated in honor of Annie Sullivan, Helen’s teacher. Although Helen could speak at this time, although Helen was a prolific author at this time, although Helen was a world traveler at this time and welcomed in the halls of Parliament and in the courts of kings and queens. Although was a highly intelligent woman and had made speeches all over the world. . . . . but on that day, emotion overwhelmed Helen and when it came time for her to speak at the dedication of the flowing fountain, she uttered one word. One word. . . . . just one word. The same word that was signed into her hand over and over and over by her teacher. The word that had opened her world. The word that had connected her back to the land of the living. At that moment, standing before a fountain in Boston, Helen’s mind went back to a little Alabama town where she had raced from the house so frustrated and went to her favorite hideout by the well.

Her teacher,...

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