Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Monday, March 21, 2016

During Holy Week

Primary Renauds is a condition medical professionals say has no internal cause. It effects the extremities, primarily hands and feet, and leaves them tingling and, more often than not, hurting. The pain results from constricted blood vessels that tighten and thereby restrict blood flow for two main reasons--cold (there's little Renauds in Bermuda presumably) and stress (wouldn't you know it?) Sounds like a it could be a particularly acute problem among Lutherans and Calvinists in and around Minnesota (like here). 

Secondary Renauds is a condition medical professionals say has internal causes like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Secondary Renauds--or Renauds Phenomenon--occurs also in people who use their hands a lot, who play piano or operate jackhammers. Those who suffer from one of the many forms of carpel tunnel syndrome may also have really painful feet and toes.

By far the most prevalent cause of painful feet and toes is diabetes. High blood sugar wreaks havoc on blood vessels and, as everyone knows, diabetic neuropathy can get ugly, fast, really ugly. Can be fatal.

I am not affected by any such pain. But everyone knows at least something about aching feet and hands. If your feet hurt, people say, you just plain hurt all over. Watch old men and women walk down the street, and you can pick out hammer toes and bunions, flat feet and ingrown nails. Ever break a toe? Doesn't everyone? There ain't no cure. Just time and tenderness. It just hurts.

Three years ago on July 4, in a motel room, I got up in the early, early morning darkness and rammed my big toe against a bed frame that was not about to move. Nothing I can say or write can describe the howling I choked back because I didn't want to wake my wife. Pain you wouldn't believe, pain so strong I went blind. In a flash I knew the nail was history--and it was. 

There's not a soul alive who somewhere on their pilgrimage didn't suffer the perfectly gruesome pain of a stubbed toe. Some of the wildest dances ever performed by humankind occur in the dark of night, most often accompanied by death songs so frightful they will never and can never be repeated. 

Yesterday in church, the preacher just happened to mention that hands and feet are among the most sensitive parts of the body. It's holy week. That's why. But once he said that, I don't remember much. Hands and feet are the most sensitive parts of the body, he said. He's right. Of course, he's right. And the very thought of nails being driven. . .

Well, you know.

The Sun Dance is a Lakota ritual that demonstrates a dancer's devotion to his people by his taking on suffering so intense it can't be imagined. In Shia communities throughout the world penitents still deliberately bloody themselves with chains in ritual self-sacrifice. Among some Roman Catholics, believers known as flagellants do a kind of ritual penance with knotted whips over their shoulders.

I've never done any of those things and don't intend to this week or any other. It seems to me such practice, even well-meant, can become grotesque very easily. But when I think of those nails being driven into hands and feet. . .

I believe all of us already know at least something of the pain Christ took upon himself, his hands and feet, as he hung there on the cross. It can't be duplicated, but it can be imagined.

The pain I can't get my mind around is not what it was that ran through in his hands and feet, but the fact that we are ourselves the nails.

No comments: