The first time we assembled the cast of Treasure Blind to read through the script and talk things over, I asked Daniel to open the meeting with prayer. For most of the 52 different characters in the feature, that was the first time they had heard him speak, let alone pray. And if you've never heard Daniel pray, you don't yet know Daniel. He was ten at the time. I vaguely remember being ten. Mrs. Habegger taught my 5th grade class. She disapproved of the girls I had begun to chase around at recess. I disapproved of her. The point is, I was no where near mature enough to offer a prayer beyond some rote nonsense I had memorized for emergencies - like when grown ups would ask you to pray in public so they could congratulate themselves on how well they've trained you. But my asking Daniel wasn't anything to do with me. I wanted everyone else to learn what I had: that this ten year old who had faced some of life's most self-focusing circumstances, was incredibly others-focused and knew how to talk to God from his heart. It has always been a sobering, inspiring, and humbling thing for me to witness, and I was eager for the whole cast to see and hear. After the "amen", no one around our 35 foot circle commented, but all eyes were searching for the owner of that squeaky voice.
During long shooting days, all of the crew and most of the cast got to spend a little more time with him. They learned that Daniel talks... alot. He knows knock-knock jokes. Far too many. He might even make up one or two. He's always hungry. His favorite things to eat include powdered sugar donuts, Mexican food, and if he has cereal - no milk. He prefers bananas to apples and potato chips to hamburgers. He has a collapsing red and white cane which he demonstrates to all who will take note, and even some who won't. He uses the cane to avoid bumping into objects or obstacles which of course he can't see. But his memory is so keen, that after a couple times across the room, he's got the position of everything memorized. This brought up the need for an unusual direction that became a sort of standard reminder added on to any other direction, "Remember to act blind." Honestly, after the first couple takes, Daniel would glide directly to his mark better than a sighted person because he was used to operating by memory. If his character was encountering a strange location in the scene, Daniel would have to be reminded that Henry couldn't see.
I also remember the first time I realized that he would never see this movie. It seems obvious now, but I had never taken the time to consider what he was doing. He was working just as hard, if not harder, than anyone in the cast or crew, and while we would all one day go to the theater and watch the final product, he would go and just listen. Listen to the dialogue that he had completely memorized - his lines and everyone else's. Listen to the giggles, the gasps, and sighs and the sobs of the audience, but never would he see one image. He did go that day. In a tuxedo. And he LOVED every moment of it. He never acted blind. I never reminded him to. In fact, I wished to see it all as deeply as he could.
His prayer that first pre-production meeting had one theme: that TREASURE BLIND be a tool in God's hands, and that God would use it to further his kingdom. I forget that. Often. I tend to wonder about sales, or shelf life, or reviews, or return on investment. I need to be like Daniel: to place my movie, and my life, in the hand of my forever-sighted Savior, and trust him to lead me and the movie exactly where he wants us to go. Thanks Daniel. I'll try to remember to act blind.