One of the finest musicians in North Carolina passed away yesterday. Doc Watson was simply one of the finest “natural” guitar and banjo players on the planet. That is pretty impressive in itself, but then when you realize that he was blind from birth it becomes something more along the lines of amazing!
Watson occasionally would share the story of his blindness. According to Watson, the midwife who delivered him back around 1923 used contaminated eye drops at his birth. He never knew sight, so everything he accomplished in music was basically “by ear” as they say. As someone with all five senses yet hopelessly pedestrian on the guitar, I love Doc’s story. My favorite style is my rough version of flat-picking. Doc Watson was one of the world’s best at the art of “flat-picking.” Full disclosure here, mountain music, blue grass, folk blues and the other genres Watson was usually found in, are definitely not my cup of tea, so this short blog note is not really about music, it is about life lived with “disability.”
When I attended seminary, a vision- impaired young man (yes he was completely blind), made his way all over that huge and serpentine campus in Ft Worth, as a fellow student. He didn’t miss anything, and he was never late for a class, something I could not say. I especially liked the way he smiled at everyone and everything as he probed with his walking stick, going from place to place. I often thought, “who’s the disabled one here, him or me,” as I ran from job to class to the Library, struggling to keep my head above water. No doubt his life was harder than I knew.
Here at Salem we have several special needs individuals who fellowship with us and a few disabled persons, and they are talented, insightful, but most all, simply indomitable in spirit! And that really is the key. The scriptures speak of a life that cannot be overcome by threat, fear, demons, the world, and even death. 1 John 5:4 speaks of the victory that has overcome the world as being connected to our faith!
Faith gives us sight that others do not have. A unique vision from a higher perspective. There is a different type of determination that flows from a faith like that! We need more Helen Keller and less Real Housewives, more Amy Carmichael and less Kardashian, more Dave Dravechy, and less America’s Got Talent.
If you are facing something really hard right now… something big and scary… remember: the victory that has overcome the world is our faith!
And the truth shall make you free…