Disability, normality, perfection and heaven …..
I was in heaven, eyes shut, listening to the glorious sound of Gabriel Faure’s Cantique de Jean Racin to the gentle accompaniment of a grand piano. Outside it was also a bright warm spring day. The music arrived at it’s peaceful conclusion and I opened my eyes. This was the real world – a scratch choir of professional musicians, many with a guide dog at their feet, celebrating the gift of Braille (200 years after the birth of its inventor, Louis Braille) that has empowered them with access to the written word. I find myself on the borders of two different worlds. One is ‘normal’ the other is not, but I cannot tell which is which. I understand Braille as enabling disabled, blind people to share in the sighted world, after a fashion, but I find myself feeling a little out of place, myself disabled and excluded from the normal world of the blind and partially sighted.
Looking after those participating in this service of celebration, I steer them around obstacles and guide them to their seats. I explain the physical layout at the front of St Martin’s in the Fields as I see it, but wonder quite what they make of it. I realise that where people are positioned is only important for sound and not for sight. The choir did not need to see a conductor! Leaving them in order to attend to others I sense their vulnerability, but is that my perspective? After all, many have travelled the country on their own in order to be there. I also hear myself saying, quite naturally, “I’ll see you after the service.” I kick myself, although I don’t know how else to phrase it, and I realise that those who are blind do indeed see, but not in the way I do.
Transported into heaven again I wonder, if we join each other there what will sight be like? Is my notion of perfection of any relevance? What use would perfect physical sight for someone who has never had it? And what about those lovely wise and patient guide dogs that are clearly a gift of God?