Of all the children of Simon and Monique, their little son Louis, seemed the brightest and certainly destined for greatness.
Aptitude to Darkness
Even as a toddler, little Louis displayed an aptitude for learning and a gift for music. So it did not surprise his father when, a three-year-old Louis walked into his father’s leather harness shop and asked if he could learn the leather trade from his dad. Simon was only too happy to show off his work to his son, and put him in charge of making a few holes in a piece of leather with an awl.
But that day would prove fateful when the awl slipped from little Louis’s hands and poked his eye. His horrified father rushed the little boy home, then found a doctor who gave the best care possible for those times. For the year was 1811 in that little French village of Coupvray, not far from Paris.
The injury to Louis’ eye did not appear too serious and the relieved parents and doctor had hopes for his full recovery. But Louis’ eye became infected. The infection then spread to the other eye and within a few days, poor Louis was totally blind. He would remain in total darkness the rest of his life. Life seemed to come to a screeching halt for Louis.
Curse to Blessing
Though he was broken-hearted and angry, blindness did not quench Louis’ thirst for knowledge. So at the age of ten, his parents enrolled Louis in the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris.
But upon his arrival at school Louis was appalled to find the school’s library housed only fourteen books. These books used a system of raised letters so that a blind person could feel them and read the text. But this system consumed enormous amounts of space on the pages, requiring books to be large and cumbersome – and extremely expensive.
Louis was convinced a better system was possible. His memory went back to a time, shortly after the injury to his eyes, when he was handed a pinecone and was impressed by the prickly edges of the pedals and the ease with which they could be detected and counted. From that seed of inspiration, Louis devised a simple alphabet using tiny, prickly bumps made in paper. He arranged these into six-pronged cells for each letter.
The Acceptance of Braille
This system became increasingly accepted by other schools and libraries, even in other countries, because it allowed for swift, easy formation of words and reading. Louis’ system has since gained universal acceptance and today makes it possible for a blind person to read nearly as fast as a sighted person. Louis Braille refused to be one more victim of tragedy. He resolved to turn the curse of his blindness into a blessing that continues to give sight to millions.
The Apostle Paul once wrote, “when we are reviled, we give a blessing in return” (1 Corinthians 4:12). Jesus commanded his disciples to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). So whether it is with words, thoughts or deeds – take the painful and turn it into something pleasant. Take the bitter and make it something sweet. Someone once said, “If all life gives you is lemons, then make lemonade.”
Dear Father in heaven, by your grace and power, help me to turn my curses into blessings, my scars into stars, my hurts into halos and my stumbling blocks into stepping stones. Amen.