It's funny how you can take something for granted until something happens to it, and then you realize how important it actually is.
Take, for example, my index finger. Not the one on my right hand, which is my dominant hand, but the one on my left hand. It's not normally a part of my body for which I show much appreciation. I don't even usually think about it all that much.
Until yesterday, that is.
I was preparing supper in my apartment, and needed to open a vacuum sealed package of fish. Rather than walking five steps, opening the drawer, and taking out the pair of scissors, I decided to use the large kitchen knife I had been using to chop vegetables instead. So, holding the package with my left hand, I took the knife and cut through the plastic. It was about that time I felt a sharp pain in the index finger of my left hand. Not only had I managed to slice the plastic holding the fish, but I sliced my finger. And it was a pretty good slice.
I remembered all of the things that I had learned about how to stop bleeding. Things like applying pressure to the wound and keeping it elevated. So I was sitting on the floor of my bathroom doing these things but they just weren't working. I figured I would need some outside help. I grabbed my cellphone and called my friend and co-worker Nicole.
"I cut my finger and I don't know if I'll need stitches," I told her. "Also, I don't have any band-aids."
She came to my apartment bearing gauze and medical tape. She took one look at my finger and said, "Yeah, you're gonna need stitches." She helped me bandage my finger and then offered to drive me to urgent care.
After receiving six stitches, and a really cool neon green bandage, I returned home to finish preparing my dinner. It was then that I started to realize how important my index finger on my non-dominant hand really is. It was difficult to hold things, or to wash dishes in the sink, since I can't get the bandage wet. I kept bumping my finger into things, which would give me a fairly painful reminder. Buttoning up my shirt, or buckling my belt, became interesting endeavors. Taking a shower with a plastic bag over my hand, to keep it dry, effectively rendered my left hand useless. Many of my friends have mentioned that I won't be able to play my ukulele for a while. Even typing this blog entry without the use of my index finger is difficult, and results in quite a few typos.
This injury is showing me how this seemingly unimportant body part actually plays a vital part in my life. I am reminded how something that I had taken for granted, and not given much thought to, is actually an important part of my day to day life.
I think we can tend to do this with people. We can overlook them, or take them for granted. We can think that they don't play an important part in our lives and therefore that makes them unimportant. It can be an easy thing to do. But when we do that, when we disregard people, I think we do ourselves a disservice. Because, when we do that, we fail to see the person and all of the gifts that they have to offer. We fail to recognize that they are worthy and deserving of love, just as much as ourselves or anyone else.
In L'Arche, we strive to recognize and lift up the gifts of each person. No matter their abilities or struggles, we choose to recognize that they have something unique and special to offer the world, something that only they can give. It might be easier to disregard or to ignore them, but we choose to lift them up and to build community around them. It is then that we are blessed to see their gifts and how their presence impacts and enriches our lives.
No one is more or less important than anyone else. We each have a part to play and gifts to share. Even if those gifts are harder to see, or not ones that we might readily lift up as important. But when we choose to realize that without each other that our community, our body, is incomplete we open ourselves to being transformed.