Yes, I will admit it, I’m a “Dancing With the Stars” fan. Although, I am sort of like the one judge who doesn’t care for all the excessive props and theatrics. He and I both say, “Just dance!” I don’t overly care for the more modern dances that have been lumped in with traditional ballroom. I like the classic ballroom dances, the ones of elegance and grace and style. As a female “of a certain age,” I like to watch the dances that swirl around the dance floor, with the feathery swish of the lady’s gown lyrically dancing just on the surface of the polished floor. It sweeps me back to a time when I believed in fairy tales and princesses (and even charming princes!) As it is with the contact in a good ballroom dance, those earlier times were an era when people spent more time eye-to-eye, face-to-face, a time that seems so far away and unreachable.
One of the contestants this year is a lady that is blind. Me, I have “blindness,” but I am blessed enough so that the upper part of my right eye has some blurry vision, enough so that I can live a, mostly, normal life. This lady though, she is in the dark. Something that was not really mentioned a lot during the team promo segments is the fact that she also suffers from multiple sclerosis. To watch her dance is amazing! Even the fact that she can dance these intricate steps in graceful hold is amazing. She will be gliding across the dance floor, and if you did not know that she was blind, you would have no idea. Watching her has been very inspirational.
The ballroom dancing is just one of her inspirational activities. She is also a Paralympic alpine skier. Imagine that! I have been on the ski slopes before, and I was not very adventurous. I could never make it past the green slopes. I could not imagine coming down a more challenging hill to begin with, let alone doing it at 70 MPH and blind! One of the introductory videos stated that her husband guides her through each twist and turn down the mountain. Wow!
Throughout the past couple weeks, I noticed that as people were speaking to her, she seemed to be looking them in the eye. This intrigued me every time I would see her do it. I have had three ear surgeries on my left ear, so my hearing is less in that ear. I find myself trying to place myself on the left side of people and look at their face as they are talking so I can partially read their lips. I knew this was not what she was doing. I thought maybe she was just turning toward the “sound.”
I was sad when, this week, she had the lowest combined scores and had to leave the show. As they were speaking to her at the end of the show, the host mentioned that people have been commenting on how she seemed to be looking people in the eye. Her response was that she tries to look above their voice. She figures that the eyes are above the voice, so she works very hard to make eye contact.
I appreciate that greatly. I am an “eye contact” person. I like giving a firm handshake and looking people in the eye as I am speaking to them. You can get a better feel for the person you’re talking to with eye contact. Most eyes cannot lie.
I was taught that it is a sign of respect to look someone in the eye when you are speaking to them, or when they are speaking to you. I have noticed that some people get very uncomfortable with direct eye-to-eye contact though. I think it is because a great deal of communication in this day and age is done through various means of electronic communication. Some people avoid person-to-person contact in favor of electronic communication methods. We are raising a whole generation that will not understand the subtly of a glance, the connection when the eyes of two complete strangers meet for the first time, or compassion conveyed through tear-filled eyes.
When I was teaching preschool and kindergarten children on Wednesday nights at my church, one of the things I drilled into them was, “When someone is speaking, be silent, look them in the eye and listen.” I told them to not only do it when I was speaking, but to do it when their parents were speaking, their teachers or anyone that took the time to speak with them. All throughout the year, every week, I would stress this point. If I asked them what our rule was when someone was speaking, they would spit it right out. I could probably ask some of the children, who are now teenagers, what our rule was and they would probably still spit it out! I just hope it was a skill that they learned and are practicing.
Being able to have visual contact with someone that is speaking to you is important and very helpful. But I sort of think that being able to listen, even without the visual stimulation, is an equally important part of communication. Although, as is the case with someone that is visually impaired, the one sense will out weigh the other. A hearing impaired person will tend to be a visual communicator, while the visually impaired will be more verbal.
When we think about our communication with God, the way He communicates to us is through His Word, the Bible. We have to immerse ourselves in it and study and apply it to our every day lives. The way we communicate with Him is through prayer, whether verbally spoken, silently whispered or with the groaning of our spirits.
I would think for someone that is blind, and is “looking above the voice,” seeking out other person’s eyes, that they are yearning for the “face” of that person. I would hope that in much the same way, we who are spiritually “looking above the Voice,” seeking Him through His Word, and attempting to look toward Him, would feel that “yearning” for the face of God, and for a time when our Lord is not physically separated from us and we will be able to see Him face-to face!
“Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” ~~ Psalm 119:18
“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” ~~ Jeremiah 29:13
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” ~~ Revelation 21:4