Samuel, dedicated to the Lord by his parents as shown in today’s reading, changed the course of Israel’s history by anointing Saul as the first king. Louis Braille, dedicated to the Lord by his parents at Baptism, changed the course of many lives by developing a system of touch reading for the blind.
Born in a small French town, Louis Braille was not unlike children everywhere who try to imitate their parents. He saw his father working as a leatherer. So, the three-year-old picked up an awl to do the same. Unfortunately for little Louis, the awl unexpectedly bounced back from the leather and hit him in the eye. The hole in his eye became infected and extremely painful. In the early 1800’s, there was no effective treatment, and the infection spread to the other eye as well. By the time he was just five, little Louis was completely blind.
But God had gifted Louis with a bright mind, a beautiful sense of music, and a caring father. His father taught him to move safely but independently using a cane. He was devout and learned to play the organ. He used this gift in many churches in France. He also won a scholarship to one of the only schools in the world at that time for blind youth. It was in Paris. There he learned a system of reading using raised letters. His father made Louis a set of thick leather letters that he could trace to write home. The young twelve-year-old realized using such a system to produce books was more than cumbersome. Few books for the blind were available. He had become familiar with a system of dots and dashes used by soldiers to communicate silently in the dark, but it was complicated.
After three years, Louis Braille developed a simpler system for the blind, not unlike the system of dots and dashes but far less complicated. Ironically, Louis used an awl to impress the letters, mathematical symbols, and musical notations into paper. It could be accessible to all. He did this because of his caring nature, believing the blind should be able to communicate on an equal footing with those who could see. What an amazing vision for a 15-year-old boy!
By twenty-four, Braille was a full professor at the Institute for the Blind in Paris and remained in that position until his death from tuberculosis at age forty-three. His system was not accepted widely in his day. After his death, however, it took hold and is used to this day, even with the advent of electronic devices. Look on public bathroom signs or elevator panels or public signs of any kind. When you see this code which has been a blessing to countless people, you can remember a man whose loss of sight led him to find a way to help others. Yes, Louis Braille was dedicated to the Lord at his Baptism, and he practiced his faith all his life. It was that faith and using the gifts God gave him that changed for the better the lives of so many.
Louis Braille is today’s Ornament of Grace.
OBSERVING THE BEAUTIFUL ORNAMENTS
How did Louis use the many gifts God gave him to uplift and encourage others instead of wallowing in self-pity?
Do you have any gifts that you could develop further to help others?