A Dialogue in the Dark: What you don’t see will blow your mind

Maryann learning from Madie
Maryann learning from Madie

“Dialogue in the Dark” has been experienced by more than seven million visitors in 30-plus countries and 130 cities around the world since its opening in 1988. Imagine being led through specifically laid-out rooms where scent, sound, wind, temperature, and texture are your only environmental cues. For the better part of an hour, worlds are reversed for those who see and those who don’t. Inside the Dialogue in the Dark exhibit, “blind people provide [people with sight] security and a sense of orientation by transmitting to them a world without pictures.”

During a visit to Atlanta my family and I bought tickets to Bodies: the exhibitionDr. Mehmet Oz hailed it as bringing “the magic of creation into clear focus … America can [now] taste medical school.” The intimate view of the human body from the inside out was exceptional and truly fascinating. I’ve gone back on two other occasions for this deep look inside the systems of the human body.

To my disappointment, I couldn’t get my family to go next door to experience the other

exhibit: Dialogue in the Dark.  I wanted to get outside my comfort zone that day. I photo-15wanted to conquer my fear and enter that world of total darkness. I was certain what we don’t see would surely blow our minds. Yet, I wasn’t brave enough to go it alone … led by a blind guide. Even in writing this I can feel timidity rise up inside of me. What if I lost my vision? Would I be able to cope and pursue my life ambitions?

Recently, I got a peek at what life is like when your daily dialogue is in the dark. During a Team Martina Soundcheck in Alabama, I met Madie Hendrix. Prior to the June 14th concert at the Von Braun Center, teammates signed up to raise funds for “Everlasting Music for Kids.” Among the top 50 to secure a spot among Martina McBride’s global charity Team Martina teammates at the Soundcheck was (then) 16-year-old Madie. She was a top-contributor in generating funds for musical instruments donated to Covenant House International in Guatemala (a crowdfunding campaign). Together, the team raised over $33,000 to give kids residing there the gift of everlasting music.

That’s one of the most breath-taking aspects about being with Team Martina led by Sheila Jones: it’s never about fanfare or stardom. It’s always about doing good in hurting lives. Meeting Madie Hendrix took me out of my box and closer to understanding “dialogue in the dark.” You see, Madie and her twin sister have been blind since (premature) birth.

Madie with her parents & teammates Maryann and Kelly
Madie with her parents & teammates Maryann and Kelly

As I sat beside Madie watching her navigate through email, Facebook, Twitter and a host of other social networks, I marveled over her savviness. It wasn’t that she simply understood the tools at her fingertips, she had a command of them … all through a little braille-enabled Bluetooth device. She took me on a journey of life according to Madie; one wrapped in faith, love, humility, and insight beyond her years.

Inside the concert hall our teammates watched a major “wow” moment unfold for Madie Hendrix. Martina McBride and her songs are an inspiration to millions, including Madie. To the delight of 44 Team Martina volunteer teammates from 22 states, Martina “surprised 16-year old blind singer Madie Hendrix with an invitation to join her onstage during soundcheck. The pair performed an impromptu duet of Martina’s 2006 hit, Anyway,” as reported by RollingStone Magazine.
(unedited video courtesy of Madie Hendrix)

Perhaps one day, Madie and I will get the opportunity to hit another stage, together. I’d love to walk through Dialogue in the Dark, holding her hand. I can imagine what we don’t see will absolutely blow our minds! She conquered fear on the stage that day with Martina. Madie Hendrix inspires me to conquer mine.

How about you. What’s your biggest fear? Any plans to conquer it?

I’ll close with a message from Madie — a few things she wanted to share about that day.

If you have a dream and you work hard, stay positive, and are determined, it WILL come true! I learned that on June 14, 2014 when, as a reward for being a part of Martina McBride’s global volunteer group Team Martina and raising over $2,000 for an orphanage in Guatemala so the kids there could have a music program, I was invited to Martina’s soundcheck in Huntsville, Alabama.  I was COMPLETELY stunned and surprised when Martina herself invited me onstage to sing “Anyway”!!! It was the most incredible and unbelievable experience of my whole life; I couldn’t believe she was standing right next to me!! She made me feel so comfortable onstage, even though I was a little nervous at first.  Just to hear her voice right next to me…and then she gave me a BIG hug afterward! It was DEFINITELY a dream come true singing with my idol…biggest inspiration…role model; it was a day I’ll truly NEVER forget!! ~ Hugs from Madie

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