Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Introducing Mark Pickup

For those of you who don't know of him, Mark Pickup is a Canadian blogger with multiple sclerosis who has been writing about life issues for quite some years. I first read Mark's columns in National Right to Life News before anyone had ever heard of the blogosphere. (At least, that's how I recall it.) Wesley J. Smith has also mentioned Mark as a personal friend a number of times. I've just added Mark's blog to the links on the left, even though I'm not a very faithful reader, after seeing this post, "Sickness seen through a lens of Christian faith," from late January of this year.

Mark was diagnosed with MS when he was thirty years old and lives in a wheelchair. He recalls in this post how his wife found an old love letter he wrote to her when they were both young. In it, he wrote this:
What about our health? Health is like money in that it can be taken away. If either of us were to lose our health, we can be thankful for having known good health. There are thousands of people who have never had the gift of good health; they live with sick or twisted bodies that have never been whole. We have so much to be thankful for but most of all, we have each other.
Mark continues:
I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of thirty. Contrary to my earlier youthful words in a love-letter to my wife, I was not thankful I had known good health after it was gone. I was angry I lost it!

Fear overcame me about what lay in store for me. I knew multiple sclerosis is a serious disease that often has a catastrophic impact of the lives of people it strikes. I knew people with MS: often their lives were torn apart as their marriages crumbled, careers shattered, and they were abandoned to a living hell.

Multiple sclerosis devastated my life. It stripped away my health, layer by layer, like pealing an onion, and eventually left me triplegic and in an electric wheelchair.

Looking back over more than twenty years of increasingly profound and crippling disability I must say that I have become one of those people I wrote about who lives with a sick and twisted body. Yes, there were times when my heart broke – along with the hearts of those loved me. There were times throughout the years when it was me (not someone else) who was on the verge of despair. Protracted suffering seemed to isolate me in sorrow – just as my wife’s sorrow seemed to isolate her. At other times we lived two solitudes rooted in the same overwhelming and inexpressible sorrow.

The only way for our two broken hearts to unite was to kneel together before the cross and ask Jesus to console the inconsolable within us.

When people unite their suffering and sorrows with Christ’s Passion, a mysterious solidarity often occurs with other sufferers; solitudes of human anguish come together in mutual comfort at the foot of the cross. Christ’s outreached arms bid welcome to all heavy-hearted people, calling us beyond ourselves and our pain to find our consolation in Him.
Read the whole thing.

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