In June 1960, Radcliffe College dedicated a fountain in memory of Anne Sullivan Macy. Anne was the teacher who transformed Helen Keller – a deaf, blind, and mute girl – into the woman who traveled, wrote, and spoke all over the world. At the dedication Helen Keller said one word,
It is a word she may have never uttered were it not for Anne Sullivan. Helen’s world revolved around the one who stood in her shadows. This is obvious in a toast Helen gave at Anne’s sixty-third birthday:
Here’s to her who is God’s Gift to me! Think of it, forty-two years long her love has shown upon my life blessing it! … I cannot begin to count over all she has done to give me eyes and ears within my limitations! I can only say, we have lived together all these years working, striving, losing and winning, and the roses she planted in my heart when I was a wild, unhappy little creature are still blooming, every tree her dear hands put there is still bearing fruit of happiness! Here’s to her whose birthday is so sweetly linked with my soul birthday!
Like Helen Keller, the apostle Paul knew the importance of appreciating those who stand in the shadows. Read the end of his letters and you will often find him giving “little toasts” to men and women who served behind the scenes.
Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. Romans 16:12-13 NIV
I once visited Helen Keller’s birthplace. While I was there, I discovered an interesting anecdote from Helen's life. The U.S. government asked Helen Keller for permission to make the National Cathedral in Washington DC her final resting place. It was an incredible honor, but Helen refused to accept it -- unless the bodies of Anne Sullivan and Polly Thomson, the two women who gave their lives to make hers better, could also be interred in the Washington Cathedral. The government agreed! What a statement of appreciation.
Anne Sullivan and Polly Thomson lived lives of ordinary greatness. In her death, Helen Keller paid the highest tribute for their service. Like Helen and Paul, why not take time to appreciate someone who serves in the shadows.
FOCAL POINT: Let's thank God for those who faithfully serve behind the scenes. Today would be a great time to give a little toast in their honor.