Working Through Pain.

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Watch Joss Ackland (read his bio below) on stage and you’ll see a talented man whose range of expressions are as rich and varied as the inflections conveyed in that resonant basso voice.

Last night we watched him at University Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in Oxford as he performed a dramatic reading of CS Lewis’ famous sermon “The Weight of Glory.” I learned from Nigel Goodwin that Joss strained his back on a movie shoot this week (playing Winston Churchill) and was in deep pain. It did not show.

After a reception we headed out to dinner at the Randolph Hotel accompanied by Joss’ daughter Tony and a group of friends from the Oxbridge Conference. I do not generally get star struck but as we entered the dining room there was Steven Hawking, his twisted body mounted on a hi-tech wheelchair aided by his wife. It turns out Nigel knows the Hawkings and they chatted while I took my seat separated from Joss only by the wonderful artist Chris Anderson.

Joss was in fine humor, joking with the waitress and responding with great deep rolls of laughter as his friend filmmaker Norman Stone fed him jokes and memories of past exploits. I was thinking how wonderful it must have been for Tony and her six siblings to be raised in a home full of joy and laughter.

The mood changed when Joss began extolling the virtues of the movie “The Notebook” and sharing how it captured his own romance with Rose, his wife who died four years ago. He talked wistfully of their young romance and how in later years she endured pain, breaking her back in a fire that consumed their home and almost their 7 children. She stayed in the blazing house to make sure all the kids were safe. As a result of her search she caught on fire and jumped out an upper-story window to survive. Two years after recovering from that tragedy Rose was hit by a car in Paris and for the last few years of her life was disabled by an MS-like illness. His eyes, dancing just moments before, settled in a distant hollow of sorrow rimmed with tears.

Nigel and I rushed off to “Bags End” and were joined later by Joss and Tony to view Chris’s art exhibit. Inspired by George MacDonald they are wondrous moody creations, dark oil on white paper; dramatic scenes of northern Scotland with dazzlingly emotive, turbulent skies. Nearby, to the sounds of riotous laughter, Nigel got on the dance floor with youth nearly 50 years his junior.

Joss chuckled as he watched. I asked how he met Nigel and he said, “I met Nigel through my son¢â‚¬¦he had a problem with drugs and Nigel helped him.” I pointed to another young man who Nigel helped through a cocaine addiction, remarking, Nigel has helped a lot of people. Quietly, those eyes again pooled with tears, Joss replied, “my son died.”

Each day we see people’s whose lives seem charmed, big families, sometimes prolific in their work, successful like Joss.

I can report to you this man is working through pain. God loves him and so do I.

(BIO) Joss Ackland??Actor : Born February 29, 1928 – London, England,
From All Movie Guide: Another illustrious graduate of London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, Joss Ackland made his first professional stage appearance at 17 in the 1945 production The Hasty Heart. For the next decade, Ackland learned his craft in a variety of regional theatre troupes, taking time out for an unheralded film debut in 1949’s Seven Days to Noon. He quit acting in 1955 to manage a Central African tea plantation, finding creative outlets as a playwright and radio disc jockey. Upon his return to the British theatre in 1957, Ackland joined the Old Vic. From 1962 through 1964, he was associate director of the Mermaid Theatre. He subsequently established himself on the West End musical stage, playing such showcase roles as Captain Hook in Peter Pan and Juan Peron in Evita. Launching his film career proper in 1965, Ackland has flourished in characterizations calling for outsized gestures and orotund vocal calisthenics. Among his better-known screen roles are Greta Scacchi’s decadent, untrustworthy aristocrat husband in White Mischief (1988), and homicidal South African diplomat Arjen Rudd in Lethal Weapon 2 (1990). On TV, Ackland was seen as C.S. Lewis in the 1985 BBC production of Shadowlands, and as Isaac in the 1994 made-for-cable Biblical drama Jacob. He has also provided voiceovers for the animated features A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream (1961) and Watership Down (1978). When asked his hobbies in a 1981 interview, Joss Ackland listed his seven children. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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