Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Two Amazing Men of God

Today, I have two friends I'd like you to meet. First, Brother Joseph Power, born in Lancaster, England in 1925, was educated at St. Mary's College, Southampton and studied at both London and Oxford Universities. He took his final vows as Brother of Christian Instruction after the customary training as a postulant, novice and scholastic. His entire life has been dedicated to teaching both in High Schools and Universities in England and the United States. I met him while attending graduate school at Walsh University in 2001. He came up to me and said, "I very much like the green stripe that you're wearing." It was just a bright green stripe on my sleeve that stood out on my navy shirt. We became friends after that. I learned that this man of God did mission work with poor in Canada, France and Haiti during his Sabbatical years. He speaks Latin and French fluently and knows a good bit of German and Spanish as well.

During his years at Oxford he was actually tutored by J.R.R. Tolkien and knew C.S. Lewis personally as well. It seems there's not many people in that circle he didn't know. When we mentioned Malcolm Muggeridge (see last Zerbik), he knew him too (I mean personally)! He has lots of stories of these famous men, and gives oratories on them around the country. We have a copy of a letter from C.S. Lewis to Brother Joseph written just before Lewis died. Brother Joseph is fighting cancer right now, and could use your prayers. He includes us in his morning prayers and it's such a comfort to know he's praying for us. I asked Brother Joseph if there was anything else he'd mind sharing with us after he'd answered my questions about his life and he wrote this:
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my life as a religious educator which has brought me friendships all over the world. The real beauty of religious life is that it harmonizes activity and contemplation. The latter is often sadly missing in a noisy world!"

This is another very special person in my life. Mark Weaver, age 25, was in a car accident just after he graduated from high school seven years ago. Mark had hemophilia all his life, this exacerbated the bleeding on his brain and therefore he has struggled more than the average brain injury victim with recovery. He is fed through a feeding tube and cannot walk or talk due to the brain damage. The only movement he has good control over is his right thumb and his blinking. Even those are hindered by muscle spasms frequently. But, most of the time, thumbs up is 'yes' and thumbs down is 'no'. From this, though, you can get a glimpse of Mark's wonderful personality. Once, I asked what color I should dye my hair, and in going through all the different colors, he gave me a thumbs up for orange! It took me a while to learn to ask only closed (yes/no) questions (counselors are supposed to ask open ended ones to get people talking), but Mark was patient with me and has a great sense of humor. Just yesterday his mother asked him if he was sleeping and he gave us a thumbs up! She said, "Then you must talk in your sleep! " I met Mark at Sugarcreek Free Methodist Church in our Youth Ministries there. He was one of the rebels at the time. Mark had been drinking the night he ran into a semi. After the accident, he was angry at himself, but never at God. Later he moved into just feeling guilty over the work he caused his parents. They are the most amazing people I have ever met! Dennis (ex-Amish) and Mary Jane (very Italian) have conformed their lives to the care-taking of Mark. It is a 24 hour a day job. Sometimes they have a nurse cover the night shift, but not very often. I still ask Mark what feelings he has every week I visit and his mood is consistently positive and upbeat now.

Mark just got his first communication board which looks like a fancy computer. He clicks a button with his thumb to move a cursor and select different words. He's still learning to make a quick click which moves the cursor, but long clicks which select choices are easy for him. I got to see it yesterday for the first time, and if he clicks on "People" then "Friends" I'm the first button he comes to! I told him if he pushes my button I'm coming over! I'm so excited for him to have a little more freedom in his speech, but it's going to take some work to hone the thumb skills he needs for this. He's been dependent on what others think to ask him for seven years. For instance, I'll ask him what he'd like to get his parents for Christmas and I list as many things as I can for him to choose, and he kindly chooses one of my options, but who knows what he'd really like to get them. Usually, I ask him what he'd like to do, "Read a book, sit and talk," and so on, and he'll say yes to every option I give him. "Are you happy to do anything, Markie?" BIG THUMBS UP! He loves to watch sports, especially gymnastics on television. He inspired me to 'Move if you can.' So, at 28 I took gymnastics and worked on my backward flip. I'm so thankful for the lessons he's taught me, and for pushing me spiritually.

Just wanted to share two amazing men of God that greatly impact our lives here in Ohio. Anytime you'd like to meet either of them, let me know, they will surely have a profound effect on your life too!


Professor Howdy said...

Very good posting.
Thank you - Have a good day!!!

Anonymous said...

Little Ezra's being taught by both parents how to be friends & how to serve others using your God-given gifts. The blessings are abound for all. The lessons to your son are priceless. It's always a treat to read your writings and also to enjoy your Wiglife photos.


Chris said...

Thank you so much for introducing me to both of these amazing men during our visits. Tell Marky that your friend Chris the massage therapist says hello & I'll work on him a bit again the next time I visit. I'd love for him to meet Donovan, too. I don't know when that visit will be, but it will happen. Love to the Wigclan.