Struggling with Parkinsons, priest fights back

Freelance radio reporter Jesse Hardman has lovingly profiled his father, The Rev. Bob Hardman, whose Parkinsons has been debilitating, yet unable so far to stifle his will.

Until my dad dies, he says, he wants to see how much he can learn. So far the jury is still out on Parkinson’s and genetics. He says he is worried I or one of my two brothers might get it….

…those who know him best, my family, we worry about him. We notice the small differences — that he can’t keep his eyes open sometimes, that his face is often expressionless. We wonder how he’s really doing inside. And sometimes we are scared to ask him the really tough questions, the ones that keep us up at night.

As for me, dad, I’m tired of asking questions. I’m humbled you are investigating your disease in hopes of helping me, in case I get it. But even if I do, you’ve shown me the path for how to have a good life, regardless, through hard work, humility and humor. I am so very proud of you.

Bob Hardman preached at St. Matthew’s in St. Paul, MN, this past Good Friday. He reflected on the phenomenon of divine intervention and the indiscriminate nature of suffering, especially as reflected through the crucible of the cross.

This God of incomparable goodness, who reached out to the godless and the forsaken, who left the ninety-nine to seek out the one lost sheep, who was anything but indifferent to human need, great or small, was nowhere to be seen. Go figure.

Joy Davidman, the wife of C.S. Lewis, once wrote in “Smoke on the Mountain”: “Our generation has never seen a man crucified except in religious art; but it was not a sweet sight, and few of us would dare to have a real picture of a crucifixion on our bedroom walls. A crucified slave beside the Roman road screamed until his voice died and then hung a filthy, festering clot of flies sometimes for days – a living man whose hands and feet were swollen masses of gangrenous meat. That is what our Lord took upon himself.”

And so it was. And it should make us all as the hymn says “tremble, tremble, tremble.” Oscar Wilde once remarked,” All great truths begin as blasphemies..” And the great truth, the greatest truth of all – that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – begins in the blasphemy of Christ crucified. For it is here, in this miracle-less death, that God’s reconciling, redeeming love is made most manifest in the unlikeliest of ways.

Frederick Buechner has said. “The Cross is the crossroads of eternity and time, the place where such a mighty heart was broken that the healing power of god could flow through it into a sick and broken world.” While there was no living miracle on Friday, Sunday was coming. The power to heal a sick and broken world is about to be released in a way never manifested before or since. Christpower is a coming.

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