I'm a thumber. While visiting friends in their homes I'll thumb their magazines and books. My thumb print is on a thousand volumes in Salt Lake City bookstores alone.

And last week I thumbed across something I thought you might enjoy — a little two-page "testimony" written by Helen Keller, the woman who couldn't see or hear but was able to open the eyes and ears of her heart to the world. The piece is called "The Light of a Brighter Day."

I've never thought much about Keller's religious faith, but apparently she thought about her faith quite a bit.

In the opening paragraph she writes:

"Faith is a dynamic power that breaks the chain of routine and gives a new, fine turn to old commonplaces. Faith reinvigorates the will, enriches the affections and awakens a sense of creativeness. Active faith knows no fear, and it is a safeguard to me against cynicism and despair."

Imagine, a woman without eyes or ears writing like that. I have two eyes and two ears and she makes me sound like a piker.

"Afterall," Keller writes, "faith is not one thing or two things. It is an indivisible totality of beliefs that inspire me — belief in God as infinite goodwill and all-seeing wisdom ... Trust in my fellow man, wonder at their fundamental goodness ... Reverence for the beauty and preciousness of the earth and a sense of responsibility to do what I can to make it a habitation of health and plenty for all men ... Faith in immortality because it renders less bitter the separation from those I have loved and lost and because it will free me from unnatural limitations and unfold still more faculties I have in joyous activity."

She concludes by saying, "When I think of the suffering and famine and the continued slaughter of men, my spirit bleeds. But the thought comes to me that, like the little deaf, dumb and blind child I once was, mankind is growing out of the darkness of ignorance and hate into the light of a brighter day."

In other words, we're all "Helen Kellers" with our sight and speech and hearing impaired. But by showing the faith that she has shown, we can rise from our murky, shadowy world and behold the glory of the sun.

After reading Keller's thoughts on spiritual matters, I couldn't decide if I should abandon religious writing all together or just try harder.

I do know I felt truly humbled.

I think of that poem where a man walks around envying others, wishing he could be as happy as a young man who sells him some candy, for example. Then he realizes the boy is blind.

"Lord forgive me when I whine," he says, "I have two eyes, the world is mine."

But our lives are really not about eyes or ears or having a voice.

Life is about quality of heart. And you get that quality of heart by developing a faith that's stronger than titanium.

That's the lesson Keller was teaching in her tiny treatise.

I've learned it.

Now, let's see if I can apply it.


E-mail: jerjohn@desnews.com