I cut my middle finger on my left hand last week making dinner. I cut it deep, and it was made worse because on the tip of my middle finger is a skin graft, placed after an accident years ago. The foreign tissue doesn’t have the same nerves as normal finger tips, and as such I didn’t feel any pain until the blade had bitten deep. Once I felt the cut, I immediately dropped the knife and walked to the sink, waiting for the blood to come. And it did, but it took a long time getting there. So long that I wondered if it would bleed at all, that perhaps the patch itself was some dead thing attached to the living me, desperately trying to hang on to the life which had long since left it.
Many things occupy this liminal space between life and death, pain and numbness. As we enter the fall, nature itself seems to find a transitional home in this thin space. Trees are some place between alive and dead, animals settle in for slumber, the vibrant verdant world begins to dull.
And I suppose all of us have inhabited this space as well. This space where you wonder: if you cut yourself, will you bleed? This space where we are numb and dull, clinging to anything alive.
These times, often around pain or loss, times of confusion or worry, are usually brief and can have a beauty and a meaning all their own, like the fall. Those we serve on the other hand, may find themselves forced into this numb, thin space by illness and the world around them. A world that holds their value at null and that often sees them as only a burden, a dead thing clinging to our lives.
The world may see them this way, but we know better. We know that if they are cut, they bleed. We know they are not numbed by the callousness of the world, but feel as we do. We can see them for the life they have, we can know their value and with that their pain. In this new season of death, may we look for the life that has always been there.