On "The Woman Who Willed a Miracle"

By Viola Henne

Sunlight on a spider's web, the hues of colors shining on the back of a bird not seen here before by us. The sweet mock-fighting of our wrestling kitties who then fall asleep in each other's furry arms. The pigeons grooming each other's hard-to-reach places, thus creating bonds of mutuality and continuity of fellowship. The gathering around the pigeon widow by her children after their father's demise -- "Old Big Blue." He used to happily waddle around the flock and eagerly feed any hatchling who properly begged at a passing beak, while other birds pecked the fledglings . . . sometimes to death. Young parents' neglect often causes baby birds to try their luck down with the flock and they are found with broken wings or legs. We feed them in the house until they heal or die. Some become quite tame this way and daintily take seeds from my mouth-held tweezer.

I rented a video film and decided to buy it when I can afford it. It's "The Woman Who Willed a Miracle." It is about a foster mother, middle aged, who took in a blind, severely spastic, and retarded baby whose parents felt ill-equipped to care for it. After years of encouragement to no avail, the lop-necked head began to hold up, and eventually the child could sit up. He never muttered, cried, or laughed. She tied his body to her back with her husband's help. She walked the boy while stroking and telling him to "try," "try," "try!" Everyone thought she was loony. Then she noticed the kid drummed his fingers to music, so she placed him at the piano and plunked and sang. Shortly thereafter she heard perfectly beautiful music in the middle of the night and found the young "idiot savant" parroting what he had heard on recordings and radio. Soon he was imitating singers' voices. Then he was potty training and "sort of" walking, and self feeding.

One day Leslie began to cry. He had never before cried, or laughed, or reacted, or spoken! She stroked his throat and told him to cry all his lost years away. After that he began to talk and sometimes to laugh. The woman's religious devotion brought this soul out of the deep hibernation owing in part to the brain being damaged and in part to blindness (due to cancer). Now near thirty, Leslie plays for churches.

I'm going to try to offer this (video) story to all groups because it shows such devotion despite no signs of cognition. Stimulation, exercise, touch, sound, might help damaged brains and bodies to try and to fulfill and contribute and enjoy. I have long known intuitively that retarded people "inside" are normal.

(From Sunrise magazine, October/November 1986; copyright © 1986 Theosophical University Press)

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