Friday, February 26, 2010
Distant Cousin Touches Another Soul: True Story
A blog came to our attention recently, a blog by a gentleman with serious health problems, whose only choice is to contemplate final things and his relation to them.
Imagine--if you can--the exhilaration of a person who overcomes a potentially deadly disease, alcoholism, through a supreme effort of will. Then, after that life-affirming triumph, imagine being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Such a cruel twist of fate would be incomprehensible to most of us. This particular man, however, has courageously devoted himself to attempting to reconcile his plight by seeking to understand his position with respect to eternity, by studying religion, the philosophy of Buddha, and more. In his blog he says he has finally succeeded--with the assistance, incredibly enough, of a bit of philosophy from Ana Darcy.
In his blog, he makes this statement: "My western trained mind continues asking, 'But where is God?' My Catholic mind keeps looking for the Last Four Things! ...I let this question go unanswered until I came across a statement of God that gave sense to the definition lurking within me." He then cites a passage from Distant Cousin: Repatriation, the second volume of the series (slight spoiler alert). In the passage, Ana is in the clutches of a kidnapper, and her situation is deteriorating ominously. This is the actual dialog:
"Do you believe in God, Ms. Darcy?"
"Do I believe in God?"
"Do you mean an an...anthropomorphic God or a transcendent God?"
"Do you mean, do I believe in a God who's like us, but maybe with a beard, or some kind of more abstract, spiritual entity?"
"Well, I don't think I believe in an anthropomorphic God who lives up in heaven, like some people do. But it would be hard to travel as far across the universe as I have without considering where it all came from. I suppose I believe in God as an algorithm."
"An algorithm. A system of formulas or laws, like in physics, that explain how things have come to be."
"I think so. Yes."
"Interesting...not a lot of comfort in that, though, is there?"
"Comfort? I don't know. Maybe there is, some. It suggests, to me, anyway, that all we have for comfort lies in each other, in ourselves. Whatever God is, we need to care for each other. I try to do that myself. Why did you ask me about God?"
"Oh, just curious. Never mind."
In an email message, the gentleman, Mike Donohue, explained: "I am aged 73, on the down hill slide. Do not be sorry about my affliction. Even though it has me sliding it has forced such opportunity on me to get everything in my wavering brain expressed in writing or in digital art. 43 years I was a successful trial lawyer traveling throughout the country handling cases. That is small potatoes to where Alzheimer's disease has now placed me. Now I am totally involved with who I am, have always been but could not see it until all the glitter was removed. This parting segment of life is just not all that bad.
"I am enjoying it, sharing it and having some sense of doing good with it. Like Ana I have an Algorithm working full bore in me.... I work feverishly at getting it all done before my mind beats me to it. This provides me a pretty satisfying life in race with the demons."
Mr. Donohue, racing those demons, is an inspiration. If we were ever to be in a similar situation, we can only pray we could face it with such resolution and grace. We are humbled and pleased that Ana Darcy's message has provided Mr. Donohue some comfort. We wish him well.
You will be always in our thoughts, sir.
Mr. Donohue's blog may be found here. His insight is here (near the bottom, just above the red graphic). He has written the account of his quest into a book, From AA to AD, A Wistful Travelogue, here.