I have learned so much from other people. I have watched them, listened to them and read about them. No person is an island. We are all a part of an ocean of other people in this sea of humanity. One of these people was a product of the post-Civil War era. Her father was known as the “Colonel”, as he served in the Confederate army. We visited her home in Tuscumbia, Alabama during one of our trips.

Helen Keller was 19 months old when she was afflicted with scarlet fever. The fever robbed her of her sight and her hearing. At 19 months of age, her world went dark, and the lights never came back on. Her family favored her in her disability, and Helen became a raging tornado as she sought to find her way in her darkened world.

Annie Sullivan was born into a violent home. Her mother died when Annie was an infant and her father was a drunkard. She ended up in an orphanage in Boston when she was 9 years old. She was also a raging tornado. She was Irish, with fire red hair, and had never known love from another person. To top it off, she was considered blind. Through circumstances, she ended up in the Perkins’ school for the blind in Boston. Through a series of eye surgeries, her sight was restored enough so that, with heavy glasses, she could read. She graduated from the Perkins School for the blind with high honors.

In Tuscumbia, “the Colonel” was reaching out to find someone who could help his daughter. By this time, Helen was eight years old, and ruled the household. The Colonel contacted the Perkins School for a recommendation of someone who could help his daughter. Annie was the selected one. She traveled from Boston to Tuscumbia and was met by Helen’s older brother. As she arrived at the plantation, she saw Helen for the first time, standing on the steps. She ran to the girl who was to be her student, and Helen immediately released all of the uncontrolled anger of a girl who had spent her life in a world of darkness and understood nothing.

It is interesting to read the rest of the story. It took two years, but Annie changed Helen Keller into the internationally famous person that she became. Helen graduated from an Ivy league school in Boston [of all places] and became an internationally known representative for the non-hearing and the blind. Many people have heard of Helen Keller, but few know of Annie Sullivan. It is an example of how one person can affect many.

In my study of the Bible, I see this happening. As I’m reading of the journey of the life of another, an incident will jump out, and it becomes an analogy for me of my own life. One such incident is recorded in the life of Elijah. He had walked into the King Ahab’s chamber and boldly stated, “…surely there will be neither dew nor rain these years except I say so…”. [ I Kings 17:1] God then led Elijah to a brook called “Cherith” on the east side of the Jordan River. There he drank from the brook, and a Raven came twice a day, bringing him bread and meat. [1 Kings 17:6] “Then it happened after a while the brook dried up”.

Helen Keller sat by the brook of Annie Sullivan and was nourished. Helen would have been as parched as the Sahara, were it not for Annie. Helen drank from the refreshing brook. Their method of communication was through a system of messages on the hand, not unlike the Morse Code. I have done the same with men whom I call “mentors”. I sat with them and was nourished by what I heard and what I observed. I drank from their wells. But then the brook dried up. I have gone through those periods of life when there was no brook. I would not be the person I am, were it not for others [friends] who allowed me to drink from the well that they had dug.

The question I ask is, do you have a brook in your life called “Cherith”? Have you been nourished by another, as they allowed you to drink freely from the well they had dug? Listen to Isaiah; “And the Lord will continually guide you, and will satisfy your desires in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail”. [Isaiah 58:11]

Many are the times that I have been hiking one of the trails that are so abundant here in this area that we call home, and have come to a spring of water literally running out of the rocks or the mountain side. I’ll say to my wife, “this stream is screaming at me to drink from it”, and I would lie flat on the ground and suck in that cool refreshing water. It was always so refreshing.

That’s what friends are like. They allow me to drink of the stream of life that they have found, and as a result, my life is changed. Yes, I have found that I must be selective from whose well I drink from. Some people are starved themselves for a fresh drink of life. They certainly have nothing to offer me of lasting value. Yes, they are friends, but they themselves are searching for life. In some cases, they are like what General Custer said of the Powder River; “it is a mile wide but an inch deep”. Either they have never found “Cherith”, or if they found it, “…the brook dried up”.

One of the vocations that is significant today is to become “A Life Coach”. I respect those who have devoted their life to coaching others to success, however, coaching has to do with skills, and the development of talents. Many a sports’ person has been greatly helped by a Coach. However, what I am referring to here is beyond coaching, but is about becoming a friend and a mentor to someone else who is on the journey of life. It deals with what the Apostle Paul calls “the inner man”. When I drink from the well of your life, I seek to get inside your spirit and to drink of the life that you have found. I must become vulnerable and transparent, to recognize my own weakness and find the strength you have found, so I can become the person God wants me to become.

Annie passed away before Helen. Helen continued her traveling, but she was never the same. Helen and Annie had developed a relationship that could never be replaced by another. Do you have a well that you can drink from that gives you life and energy?

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