I had attended a camping retreat for church, in which we took a trip "Up North" as a congregation. We slept in rustic cabins, and soaked in some God. After the first day, we all settled as the sun was going down. While the children were playing and the adults were visiting, I decided to go off into a clearing to practice my whip cracking. As I was cracking away, there was a middle aged man happily swinging on the swing set a couple of yards from me. He said, "It sounds like fire crackers over there. Are you lighting firecrackers?" I stopped what I was doing and realized the person talking to me was named Brent, whom has been completely blind since birth. I walked over to him and we got to talking about what I was doing and why and how. I explained that sometimes when I am really having trouble making my cracks work out, I close my eyes and practice. Brent's face lit up and he said, "Close your eyes? I'm an expert at doing stuff with my eyes closed!!! Can I try?"
So, of course I grabbed him by the arm and led him off into a clear place where I could explain how to crack a whip. I figured the underhand flick would probably be the safest and easiest to teach. First, I let him feel the whip. Then I told him approximately what length he was dealing with and what does what. I placed the heel knot in his hand and told him to relax. I held his hand and went through the motions of a flick, explaining that it was much like throwing a bowling ball. Luckily, he understood how to throw a bowling ball, so he could associate that action with what we were doing.
I placed my sunglasses on his face for protection. He asked, "What are these for?" And I said, "To protect your face and eyes in case the cracker gets wild and hits you." He said, "Oh yeah...I wouldn't want to go blind..." Then, he tried it. Really, he didn't do too bad for the first try. Not having the luxury of actually seeing how it should be done, he was excellent. The footwork was difficult. While I am not shy about touching others, leg grabbing was kept to a comfortable minimum.
After about 10 minutes of trying, he made a very small crack. I promised I would let him practice again the next day.
The next day I had more time to spend with him and it was no longer dark. I figured the entire adventure would work out much better if the teacher could see, at least. I was then better able to explain how to step forward while flicking, keep his flick low, and bring his hand up only as a follow through to slow down the speed of the whip after the flick. I was very scared that he was going to hit himself. I think I limited him more than I would normally, but he was adventurous and not at all afraid, so we continued with the lesson. He was very rough and at times liked to do a little shuffle during his crack, but he succeed. He made noise.
I was so blessed that weekend, to be able to participate and experience such bravery and a willingness to experience something new. Despite the darkness, he truly does see.--
Jessica M. Edwards