Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

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His name was unusual and it fit him very well,
since he was a very unique man,
who when I first saw him made me a little uneasy.

He had gentleness to him,
Also an odd way of acting that put me off at first,
in fact I can’t say I ever really warmed up to him
in all the years that I was one of his caregivers.

He was a paranoid Schizophrenic,
a very difficult diagnosis to deal with,
it caused him and those who lived with him
a great deal of frustration and pain
with anger flowing from both sides
as well as fear,
for he could show some violent tendencies
though he never actually hurt anyone.

His violence was often directed towards himself,
even when yelling,
or threatening
he would often pound on his knee
with great force and determination.

He had many other health problems,
his heart for one,
and of course on many medications
all needed to keep him functional
even if it was often on a low level.

I sometimes had to take him to the hospital
a special one for people with his problem,
not a pleasant place but one that was needed
and in the end helped him to do better,
especially in the last few years of his life.

He was in his own way a man of great inner strength
for in all the years I took care of him
the number of good days he had could be counted on one hand,
his hours were dark and lonely,
it was difficult for him to communicate in a way appreciated
and at times he would not be able to get a point across at all,
just talk,
but no real contact.

At times people would laugh when he gave his opinion,
not out of cruelty,
just a nervous sort of thing
in not knowing exactly on how to deal with him.

He often had something important to say,
yet it had to be shifted
and pondered upon,
to understand his point,
for he was very intelligent
and his often skewed way of looking at things
where in reality prophetic.

While it is true I did not connect with him on an emotional level,
I still honored and admired him in many ways,
for I understood that if I had to bear his cross
I would shatter,
sink,
give up,
possibly kill myself,
so yes he was a real man,
who had a raw boned faith,
often tempted to unbelief
yet he did not give up.

His love of the Psalms was deep
spending many hours praying them
for they reflected his own journey in many ways,
pain,
anger,
the feeling of being abandoned
both by God and man,
giving a voice to his inner anguish and deep pain.

He would sometimes say to me
that “oblivion would be ideal”,
that was a code to get him help
since the thought of suicide was becoming attractive
something he would not do,
yet because of the level of his deep interior pain
off to the hospital we would go.

We had our ups and downs,
yet I am grateful that I was one of his caregivers
and when he died one day suddenly,
he was found in his bed
on his back
with his hands folded over his chest
rosary in hand,
as if he knew
and just waited for the end,
or perhaps his new beginning
as faith in God points to.

I feel that his soul was pure gold
formed in the furnace of a very hard life
yet he stayed on the road
clinging to his deep
and yes also fragile faith,
in God’s abiding love and presence.

I have learned from him
he was a great teacher
on the reality of God’s presence in all of our lives,
in chaos,
pain,
abandonment,
in joy and sorrow,
in our virtue and sin
God is true and clings to us
not we to him.

Fear not is what I learned most.

a rare event
snow,
it gently falls covering the ground
silent as it paints everything in white ambiance,
a rare even here
so yes I can enjoy it a bit,
though I prefer rain.

Br. Mark Dohle, OCSO
Holy Spirit Monastery

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