A watershed moment is when everything changes after one event. Helen Keller was robbed of both her hearing and sight by a childhood illness. At the age of 19 months she was plunged into a world of silence and darkness. Helen learned to recognize particular vibrations by the approach of her family members and could find her way by means of touch, but it was unlikely her inmost thoughts would ever be released from their sensory prison.

Just before her 17th birthday her teacher came into her life. Helen’s parents hired 20- year-old Annie Sullivan to see if she could open a window into Helen’s world.

Annie started by giving Helen a doll and spelling the word into her hand. Helen ripped it to shreds. Helen lived in a dark world with no sentiment or tenderness. Annie then took Helen outside and placed Helen’s hand under the water spout. “As the cool stream gushed over one hand, she spelled another word in my hand. Suddenly the mystery of language was revealed to me. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy and set it free. Now the world made sense, everything had a name and Helen wanted to know them all.”

When Helen returned to the destroyed doll, she tried to put it back together. Her eyes filled with tears, “I realized what I had done, and for the first time I felt repentance and sorrow.”

The watershed moment in Helen Keller’s life was the arrival of her teacher. Is there someone whose presence has divided your life into before and after? Has anyone opened your mind and dispelled your darkness?

This is the role of Jesus in our lives. Too often we relegate Jesus to some other function: the answer to an esoteric theological question or a symbol on a cross, maybe an eternal fire insurance policy in case we need help in the next world.

When we enroll Jesus as our teacher, suddenly our lives get transformed. He opens up both this truth about this world and the next. Jesus gives us a glimpse into ourselves both our strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly Jesus leads us into the life-giving relationship with God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is in this connection we truly understand our existence.

Rev Dr William A Lewis