I am trying to get used to only using one hand to maneuver around these days, since I broke my wrist in a fall shortly after I arrived in California. Having only one hand available is presenting many challenges — you never appreciate it until you don’t have it to use any more! Things like drying myself off after a shower, or putting on my clothes and especially underwear, are enormously difficult to do with only one hand. And forget cutting meat on my plate! So far my family has been really supportive in helping me with these everyday tasks.
In the post where I jokingly asked for music for right hand and pedal, someone commented, “You need to ask Mark Thallander.” But of course! In 2003, Mark’s life as an organist took a definite turn when he was in a serious car accident. You can read the complete story here. Mark had been the assistant organist at the famed Crystal Cathedral for eighteen years, working with Fred Swann, when he lost control of his vehicle in a violent storm on August 3, 2003, worse than “an E-ticket ride at Disneyland,” which is how Alicia Steinhaus described it. From an interview with Bobby Schuller, “As he was whisked away to surgery, Mark’s words to the surgeon were, ‘Please don’t let me lose my arm. I’m an organist.’ When Mark awoke from surgery, his life took a new direction as prayers were being said for him from people all over the country. He has since shown the world that his disability has turned into great possibilities.”
Just a few months after the accident, a young women wrote about Mark at an organ concert at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church: he sat down to play an amazing fantasia on the Joyful, Joyful theme. With his one hand he flew up and down and up and down the keyboard and usually took the melody in the pedals. It was an arrangement he had done himself and it was amazing. Everyone was completely still, most with mouths wide open, many with eyes full of tears. Mark’s was a strong testimony of the grace of God in the lives of his saints: that this fine organist could lose an arm and go through so many hard times, and still play this Joyful, Joyful as if he meant it. When it was over and the applause had died down it got very quiet… There wasn’t much conversation. It was a very moving end to a concert.
Here is a video from the “Let Your Joy Be Known” Choir festival on February 17, 2008 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, California, with Mark Thallander at the organ. Amazing, isn’t he?
Since his injury, Mark has worked tirelessly for his Foundation and has come to Hawaii on a number of occasions — I remember meeting him at his concert at Central Union Church. He will next be in Maui for the Hawaiian Islands Choral Festival at Makawao Union Church on April 3, 2016. Check out his Foundation website here.
Another organist who is dealing with injury this Christmas is Erik Floan, who subbed for me at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu some years ago. Poor Erik fell off a ladder while decorating his church in Winona, MN, for Christmas, and broke BOTH wrists in addition to injuring his back.
Guess his assistant will be busy for awhile! Erik posted this great cartoon on his Facebook page.
My claim to fame is that I walked into a treadmill!