On Losing a Finger

A couple of days ago, a good friend of mine cut off his finger. He was laying some flooring in his home, which had to be cut with a table saw. He was almost done when, all of a sudden, one of his fingers ended up on the table, as it were. He was alone at the time, so he drove himself to the emergency room. Fortunately, he lives rather close to the hospital, so getting there wasn’t as traumatic as it could have been.

When I say he cut off his finger, I’m exaggerating a tad. He actually cut it off just past the first knuckle (or would that be the last knuckle). I’m not sure if one counts these things from the tip of the finger inward or from the palm outward. Suffice it to say, he has one less knuckle these days.

After he had been stitched up and bandaged and the ordeal was over, I jokingly told his wife that he probably wasn’t going need it anyway. She just stared at me like I was an idiot (in which regard she could be my own spouse’s twin sister). In her defense, it was somewhat of an idiotic joke, but think about it this way.

Fifty-Five Years of Disuse

Mikey (the dude with the missing body part) and I have been friends since junior high. We were about thirteen when we met. Over thepast fifty-five years, I can’t remember him ever using that digit. After all, it’s the pointer finger, and we learned a long time ago that it’s not polite to point. Additionally, he lost the one on his left hand. I’m pretty sure he’s a right-handed pointer anyway, so if the need arises for him to point something out, he still has his remaining good one.

Having heard his tale of horror, I got to thinking about the body parts that I have lost over the years. Outside of riding a Harley, I don’t do much to endanger “life and limb” as they say. I live a rather cautious life. Still, I walk around sans a few parts myself.

I’m missing a gall bladder, some teeth, a slightly used appendix, and a lot of hair (not to mention a couple of kidney stones—although, I’m not sure those could be counted as body parts). In my case, I’ve been more than happy to part with all those things (aside from the hair). Each one of them was causing me pain.

Some folks like to speculate that all our body parts will be restored in the hereafter. I’d like to think that’s true, but then there’s the example of Jesus. He still had holes in his glorified body (see John 20:24-29). That doesn’t bode well for people looking to regain fingers and such. On the other hand, Saint John tells us that, in the end, the old order of things will pass away and God will make all things new (Revelation 21:1-5). There’s hope for you yet, Mikey!

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]

Old Age and Treachery

There’s an adage that says, “Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill.” I’m not exactly sure what to make of that, but I suppose treachery does give one an advantage. The implication is that us geezers have been around long enough to learn all the tricks.

From what I can gather, this quote has been attributed to David Mamet (an American playwright). I can only assume this is accurate, because it truly sounds like a line one would hear in a play. No one I know actually talks like that.

I’m not sure why old folks would ever have to overcome skilled young people. Is someone planning an armed revolt of which I’m unaware? I hope not. I’m not all that good at treachery.

I looked up the term, treachery, just to make sure I completely understood what it means. It turns out I had a pretty fair handle on its connotation. Webster and the boys use terms like “deceit” to define it. That immediately causes a red flag to shoot up in my mind.

That Famous Decalogue

Being from the Judeo-Christian camp, I have been taught some rules for life. Among them is a little compilation we like to call the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-21). If you read that famous Decalogue, what you’ll find is that treachery is frowned upon by your Creator—big time.

I like to think I’ve never been much of a devious person (although, I allow for the possibility that others around me may have a differing opinion). Still, I tend to be one of those “live and let live” kind of guys. It’s not my inclination to lean toward treachery to get what I want.

As a matter of fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize I was much more prone toward treachery in my youthful days than I am now. If my life is somewhat typical, that means Mamet’s saying is highly suspect. I will readily admit that I’ve never been accused of being normal, but I don’t think I’m too far out.

“I’m not anxious to be overrun.”

Now, ponder that. If I’m correct in my thinking, young, skillful people given to treachery (possibly due to their youthful immaturity) are a danger to old, honest ones. No wonder Mamet implied we should turn to treachery ourselves (if, indeed, that’s what he was doing). I, for one, am not anxious to be overrun by these traitorous, youthful hordes.

Before I get too carried away with this paranoia, let me just say I have every hope that young people will not come after us. Part of their skillset (in direct opposition to our own) is the mastery of technology. My grandbabies are more tech savvy than I am. Heaven forbid they should turn on us. We couldn’t possibly muster up enough treachery to thwart their evil efforts.

Frankly, I’m probably making too much of all this. Another of Mamet’s famous sayings is, “Always tell the truth–it’s the easiest thing to remember.” So much for treachery…

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]