This past week I had the opportunity to have dinner with a special group of individuals. The couple that hosted us is one that I have had great love, respect and admiration for over the past several years. Their service made us all feel like royalty and the wife cooked a meal that almost had me laid out on their couch for the rest of the evening. (smile)
However, the food wasn’t the best part of the night. It was the fellowship and conversation.
One gentleman at the table was visiting from out of town along with his wife. He’d dare not say it of himself, but this man is one of the most brilliant and insightful individuals you would ever want to meet. For years all of us sitting at the table have held him in great esteem, whether it has been through his deeply spiritual writings, his no nonsense passion for what he believes in, his work ethic or his countless talks. He’s been speaking so long that most of us still listen to him on audio cassette tapes.
In the past, we would all be hanging on his every word, because we felt he was sincere in giving us all a greater insight into truths that we’re all seeking a greater understanding of.
This time was no different, yet it was.
By the Grace of Allah (God), this man has survived several ‘near-death experiences.’ He presently “suffers” from Aphasia, a disorder resulting from a severe stroke he had a few years back. The Aphasia has impaired the part of his brain that controls speech and effects his ability to speak clearly at times to the point that his wife, who is so in tune with him, had to somewhat translate to us what he was attempting to communicate.
Some moments he would take out a pad and pen to write it out but did not like doing that, because he felt “that’s not natural”—meaning he desired for us to understand it coming from his mouth.
Throughout dinner at times the words would come out clear as daylight, other times you would need to know how to read lips, or learn to hear with more than just your two set of ears.
We all have known him as a man of “many words” and most of us have personally witnessed him talk for hours at a time. Though he has a sense of humor and pleasant personality, I’ve never known him to waste words or time. He has always emphasized that most people use words too much that they don’t truly know the meaning of, so he’s a stickler for defining words all the way to their root meanings. His weekly columns make you think, research and dialogue.
With all of that being said, you could imagine how frustrating it could be for a man of “many words” to barely be able to speak. To have so much you want to share, yet, there’s an interruption in the neural signal being sent from your brain to your vocal chords.
I have to be brutally honest and I’m ashamed to admit it: I started getting frustrated and I’m not the one with Aphasia.
I wanted so badly for him to be healed of this condition right then, because I wanted us all to drink from his “fountain of wisdom” that he always attributes to those who have taught and guided him since the mid-1950’s.
“Why God would you allow such a man to be muted like this?” I thought to myself. He began to share with us why he believed God was allowing him to go through this at this time. He shared with us that although this aspect of his life is impaired, other senses have been heightened.
He wasn’t seeking pity from us over his medical condition nor was he complaining about it. And there I was silently complaining to myself about not being able to understand his words. I shook my head.
I said out loud, under my breathe, “We take so much for granted.” Those who heard me agreed.
Before we complain about what we don’t have, we should stop and reflect on what we do have. That loss we’ve experienced may be a message that we have yet to fully appreciate all the other things we have.
The man taught me a valuable lesson: There is always fortune to be found in the misfortunes. The fortune can be difficult to see and hear if we’re only tuning in with our physical eyes and ears.