Sunday, March 6, 2011
Saint Sheila. My Hero.
Some time ago I wrote about the Space Center’s Patron Saint Sheila. The article was a tribute to Sheila Powell, one of the Space Center’s three field trip teachers.
The people I proclaim ‘Saints‘ encapsulate my vision of heroism. They are selfless with their fellow man. They are kind to a fault. They bear their burdens with a strength that inspires. All this, and much more, defines our Saint Sheila.
Sheila’s rise to sainthood is the result of several factors. Sheila was a sixth grade teacher in the Jordan School District. That fact alone drew Vatican attention. Sheila is a cancer survivor. Cancer survivors no longer exist in the same world as you and I. They experience life differently, knowing how fragile it is and how quickly it can end. They have the power to stop time and enjoy life’s special moments. You see them sometimes, standing alone, looking at something so innocent to us that it would hardly cause a moment’s thought, yet they sit memorized - lost in the fraction of a pleasant second.
A few weeks ago Sheila’s father passed away. It was yet another burden for her to carry, being the eldest and responsible for her surviving mother.
And finally, this week’s news.
“I’ve got Parkinson’s Disease,” she told us on Monday. It was said much like you would say you were coming down with a cold. The calmness of the statement was followed by the brightening of her halo. Such a statement can leave the listener uncertain of how to respond. For a moment you visualize the meaning, then realize the uncertain road ahead. The “I’m so sorry,” that inevitably follows are the only words that manage to surface.
And so, our Saint Sheila embarks on another journey of faith, with us beside her.
Recently I overhead several of the staff discuss a member of BYU’s basketball team. I believe his name was Jimmer. The word ‘hero‘ was used to describe their perceptions of his character and abilities. I thought for a moment of how life changes you as you age. When you’re young you admire people that excel in doing things you dream of doing well yourself. You make them your heroes. You put their posters on your walls. You dress like them, talk like them, and eat the cereals endorsed by them.
Now that I've reached the Autumn of my life, I choose my heroes differently. My heroes are the men, women and children who carry the burden of misfortune and illness with a faith that inspires me to be a better person. I see them playing a hand none of us would want, and yet manage to do it in such a way that we are all the better for it.
Saint Sheila is my hero.
Thank you Saint Sheila.