What I have to write about today cannot be written in 140 keystrokes. Richness and depth that connects us to the vibration of life that exists in all of us require more of us than the way most people normally communicate in 2014. This afternoon, I received an email that was filled with such beauty, I felt an instant need to stop what keeps me forever busy in my life…and allow the feelings that this message generated in the depths of my soul to remind me of my own connection to the vibrations of life.
The letter I was privileged to have read was written 90 years ago by a deaf and blind woman about an experience she had listening to the music written by a composer 190 years ago. Her letter follows:
I have the joy of being able to tell you that, though deaf and blind, I spent a glorious hour last night listening over the radio to Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony.” I do not mean to say that I “heard” the music in the sense that other people heard it; and I do not know whether I can make you understand how it was possible for me to derive pleasure from the symphony. It was a great surprise to myself. I had been reading in my magazine for the blind of the happiness that the radio was bringing to the sightless everywhere. I was delighted to know that the blind had gained a new source of enjoyment; but I did not dream that I could have any part in their joy.
Last night, when the family was listening to your wonderful rendering of the immortal symphony someone suggested that I put my hand on the receiver and see if I could get any of the vibrations. He unscrewed the cap, and I lightly touched the sensitive diaphragm. What was my amazement to discover that I could feel not only the vibration, but also, the impassioned rhythm, the throb and the urge of the music! The intertwined and intermingling vibrations from different instruments enchanted me. I could actually distinguish the cornets, the roll of the drums, deep-toned violas and violins singing in exquisite unison. How the lovely speech of the violins flowed and plowed over the deepest tones of the other instruments!
When the human voices leaped up thrilling from the surge of harmony, I recognized them instantly as voices more ecstatic, up-curving swift and flame-like, until my heart almost stood still. The women’s voices seemed an embodiment of all the angelic voices rushing in a harmonious flood of beautiful and inspiring sound. The great chorus throbbed against my fingers with poignant pause and flow. Then all the instruments and voices together burst forth – an ocean of heavenly vibration – and died away like winds when the atom is spent, ending in a delicate shower of sweet notes.
Of course this was not “hearing,” but I do know that the tones and harmonies conveyed to me moods of great beauty and majesty. I also sense, or thought I did, the tender sounds of nature that sing into my hand-swaying reeds and winds and the murmur of streams. I have never been so enraptured before by a multitude of tone-vibrations.
As I listened, with darkness and melody, shadow and sound filling all the room, I could not help remembering that the great composer who poured forth such a flood of sweetness into the world was deaf like myself. I marveled at the power of his quenchless spirit by which out of his pain he wrought such joy for others – and there I sat, feeling with my hand the magnificent symphony which broke like a sea upon the silent shores of his soul and mine.”
The Auricle, Vol. II, No. 6, March 1924. American Foundation for the Blind, Helen Keller Archives.
As I am writing these words, I am listening to the overpoweringly enthralling music that is now connecting my essence with the wonder of Helen Keller in 1924 and that of Ludwig Van Beethoven in 1824. In some profound, mystical way, the three of us are flowing as one in our spirits through the vibration of life that flows beyond time from the heart and soul of a man into the hands and heart of a woman and into my own ears and heart in this moment. These moments we give to ourselves, every now and then, can remind us of the deepest of truths…we are not separate…we are a part of a glorious choir that has been singing through all the souls into all of the hearts and into the chorus of humanity throughout the ages. We Are Not Separate.
Helen and Ludwig were deaf and yet, they were able to hear by feeling what was inside them. But far too many of us are able to hear and yet, we can be far more deaf to the vibrations of life than either of these two magnificent beings, when they were alive. We have a choice… Continue reading