As a young lad, my elementary school (Anne Sullivan Communication Center) required students to take sign language classes for ... four years, I think - second through fifth grade. Of course, ask me how much I remember from those years and the answer is sadly, "not much." Frankly I don't remember being all that interested at that age.
A couple years ago, though, I had a housemate named Ellen, who was studying to become an ASL interpreter. Between learning a lot of signs from her, and also from some AWAKEN friends around the same time, my interest in the subject was piqued. (Typical me: tell me that I have to learn/do something, and I'll resist, but let me come to that same conclusion on my own, and I'll embrace it wholeheartedly). And so, for the past year or three, every time a Minneapolis Community Education catalog shows up in my snail-mailbox, I've thought about signing up for an ASL class. Thought about but never executed. The classes are dirt cheap, but my concern has been the time commitment, and the fear of adding "one more thing" into an already over-busy schedule. Yet, for the past two class seasons, I've felt very specifically "called," or at the very least, "affirmed" in my desire to sign up for this class, so tonight I finally took the plunge and enrolled in a 7-Monday course starting later this month.
You might ask why. I'm already busy enough. Why add this "one more thing"?
Emotionally, I continue to feel a deep yearning toward wanting to learn more in ASL. The few signs I know have become part of my worship experience; or, rather, most of the few signs I know, I know because I wanted them as part of my worship experience. The physicality of signing during worship is reminiscent of AWAKEN, and seems to help me feel connected to God.
The answer might be as simple as that. Maybe this is simply an experience for my own spiritual growth.
I do wonder though if my future holds some other purpose for this present-day desire. I highly doubt I'm called to be an interpreter (although I think it might be fun to interpret worship services; that would be quite a different career path from working with supercomputers!), but on the other hand, maybe I'm destined to meet a [blonde] deaf girl and fall in love with her. Or maybe someone in her family will be deaf. Or one of my future children (natural born or adopted). Or maybe I myself will lose my voice or hearing (re-reading the Christmas story last week, I made particular note about Zechariah, and how he was made mute during Elizabeth's pregnancy and had to use ... HSL? [Hebrew Sign Language?]). Or maybe none of these. I don't know. And I don't need to. It'll just be something fun for right now, and like ComedySportz classes did last year, something to push me out of my comfort zone.
Also, now I'll finally be able to keep up when Ellen and her boyfriend visit and start signing at each other right in front of me.