A blessing in disguise
by PASTOR LARRY ROWLAND
Rockford Baptist Church
Simon and Monique welcomed their fourth child into the world with joy and celebration. Louis was a healthy boy, full of life.
Simon was a tanner who lived in a stone house outside of Paris. One of the small rooms of the house served as Simon’s workshop. Because the leather working tools of his trade were often sharp, the children were warned not to play in dad’s shop. But when Louis was still a toddler, he ventured through the shop door inadvertently left open. As Louis was playing with his father’s tools that just fascinated him, he slipped and poked himself in the eye with a sharp awl. The injured eye soon became infected. When the infection spread to Louis’ other eye as well, Simon and Monique helplessly watched as their four-year-old son completely lost his eyesight.
Louis’ parents sacrificed to send him to the Royal Institution for the Blind in Paris, and the boy was exposed to the most advanced teaching available to him. He even took organ lessons and excelled as a musician. But Louis longed to be able to read like the other children who were blessed with their eyesight.
One summer as he was back home on vacation, the now young teenager thought of an idea. He asked his dad if he could use one of his awls. Simon was somewhat surprised, but agreed, because his son was now old enough to handle tools. Louis then took the awl and, working with some scrap leather from his father’s shop, he began to devise a system of dots that could be felt with the fingers.
Because of the ingenuity of Louis Braille, sight-impaired people today can read and write, work on math problems and even compose music. Interestingly, it was the very instrument that caused Louis’ blindness in the first place that became an instrument of blessing for millions of sight-impaired people down through the past 200 years. The same awl that initially caused Louis Braille’s eyes to lose their sight formed the first letters and numbers in the leather that eventually allowed Louis and so many others to read and write.