Archive for May, 2003

Superman in Cleveland

Thursday, May 1st, 2003

Every year many Poles come to Cleveland for professional reasons. Among them are scientists, doctors, and professors, from all different fields. Did you realize that Poles not only study at institutions of higher education in Ohio, but that they also lecture and teach and conduct scientific research? I know personally many professors from Poland at different schools in the area. One of them, for example, is looking for Poles who might be interested in doctoral studies in engineering.
We have plans to invite many of them to the Center to share their work and their knowledge with our community. Once a month on a Friday evening, we gather to listen to them tell about their work. Many professionals spend their working lives among a small group of people working only in their specialty. Outside of this group not many people are interested. But sometimes such scientific work can interest a wider audience.
Since 1986 many Poles have come to Cleveland to work at Case Western Reserve University and cooperate with Dr. Anthony DiMarco of MetroHealth Hospital. They studied how to electrically stimulate the respiratory muscles to produce ventilatory movements in quadriplegic patients. The idea of this method is similar to the pacemaker – to produce the rhythmical work of respiratory muscles that will restore the normal rhythm of breathing.
Several years ago, in cooperation with researchers from CWRU and University Hospitals, these researchers elaborated a method of electrical stimulation of the diaphragm that did not require complex surgery. One of the scientists who is part of this ‘Polish invasion’ is Dr. Krzysztof Kowalski from Poznań. The method used to electrically stimulate the diaphragm was developed with his cooperation. Because this is such specialized work, only a few were ever likely to know about it.
Christopher Reeve belongs to the small group of specialists who are active in the field of research on artificial ventilation for quadriplegic patients. He founded his own foundation supporting this type of research, and he then became interested in the work of the CWRU team. He was not interested in this work simply because of its connection to his foundation; he longed to apply this research to himself. Recently he became the third patient to participate in the experimental trials of this work. The April 26th, 2003 issue of Polityka includes a story describing the work of the CWRU/MetroHealth team and the success of Christopher Reeve.
Thanks to this method Superman could breathe through his nose using his own muscles for the first time since his fall from a horse eight years ago. After the procedure, he said: “For the first time in eight years, I woke up and smelled the coffee.” He could also hear for the first time his own breathing without the sound of the artificial ventilator. We were there to witness this. Superman is still Superman. When we told him that it would not be long before he would be able to take a deep breath of a liter of air (to literally ‘inspire’), he said he would be able to do it the same day. And he did it!
Thanks to us, Superman can smell the coffee and thanks to him, we have the chance to make our research known to others, including those who may decide how the research should be continued and applied. Not only here, but also in Poland!

Dr. Ryszard Romaniuk

Forum, 5/2003

The Power of Truth and Beauty

Thursday, May 1st, 2003

I am moved to write of two very special events associated with our Pope, John Paul II.
The first is his 83rd birthday on the 18th of May.  We all wish him the best on this wonderful occasion.   The second is to congratulate him on the publication of his newest book, a collection of poems entitled  A Roman Tryptych
We all knew that the pope was a poet who wrote as a young priest and a Cardinal.  But that he would continue writing poetry to this day has been a great and wonderful surprise to all and just one of the many surprising things about this amazing man.  This latest publication of poetry was inspired by a pilgrimage to his homeland in 2002.
The pope through his words wants to show us that there is no conflict between reason and faith, no inconsistency between the human mind and the Christian faith, and no contradiction between truth and beauty.
The book is comprised of three parts, like a beautiful medieval tryptych gracing an altar.  One sees from the subtitle that these are poetic meditations taking the reader on a journey of mysticism and contemplation.  Each one of the three parts has its own theme and subject matter.
The first part of A Roman Tryptych is entitled “The Stream.”   “What do you think mountain stream . . . where will you and I meet?  We who rush through. . . ”
Here the narrator contemplates the waters of a mountain stream, constantly flowing, and wandering from their source to their destination. The poet urges the reader to seek the source and destination of their own life by undertaking a journey to seek God. He reminds us that one must never be dissuaded or discouraged from the journey by any obstacle encountered along the way.
The second part of the Tryptych is entitled “Meditation at the threshold of the Sistine Chapel” Painted by the master, Michaelangelo, the frescoes on the ceiling and walls of the Sistine Chapel  depict biblical scenes from the creation of the world to the final judgment. The interior of the chapel is not only a place to contemplate civilization’s greatest art, but for John Paul II this chapel is the heart of the Vatican, where his papacy began, and the place that inspires his thoughts about what we must do in the time we have been given, from the day of creation to the final judgment. “You, who are everywhere and everything, show us the way — He shows us…”
The author describes the frescoes: depictions of the saved and the damned, A grieving Blessed Virgin Mother, God sitting in judgment. He does this with expertise and insight, but above all,  through the eyes of a priest—poet, someone who knows about the processes of creation. The writing strikes a perfect balance between a declaration and the humble reflections of the artist creating his work.   This part of the book explores the great mercy of God, His power and majesty.
The final segment of the Tryptych is entitled “In the Hills of Moria”.  It tells the story of Abraham offering his son, Isaac to God .  Here one finds thoughts on the subjects of sacrifice and devotion. The classical verses take on their own rhythms as the story unfolds.
In the pages of  A Roman Tryptych, Pope John Paul II pursues themes he touched upon in writings from his youth.  He has shown that religious poetry can be great, full of relevance and meaning for us today. One wants to reread this book many times for each time a nuance presents itself and new meanings are found.  The substance surpasses form, a sign of great poetry.
In his book, John Paul II shows us how three great spiritual forces help us seek the truth: art, philosophy and religious faith.

Dr. Elzbieta Ulanowska

Forum, 5/2003