It was such a stupid thing to do, holding a stout stick of “fat lighter’d” with one hand and hatcheting it with my right. I was trying to split the yellow pine kindling into slivers so my fire-starting supply would last me through the winter. I’ve seen others split wood, and it looked so easy. But my arm wasn’t as sure as my aim. One chop, one searing shock of pain, and the tip end of my index finger lay severed on the ground!

That happened two weeks ago. Since then, three doctors have told me that the wound is too gaping to grow back on its own. They tell me the only remedy is to cut off the end of the bone to shorten my finger sufficiently to create a flap of skin that can cover the gaping end.

I keep telling the doctors “no.” I’m not ready to lose an even larger piece of me. On Thursday, the surgeon shrugged, said it was my call, and told me to come back in another week. Then it will be obvious whether my fingertip is growing back or dying off.

With this kind of incentive, I am really focusing on healing in a natural way. I’m drinking lots of water, taking natural anti-inflammatories; I glugged down a quart of the precious bone broth my sweet sister made me. I change the bandages religiously. In meditation, I imagine my hand whole again. I sleep like the dead all night long and wake knowing that my body has been taking care of business.

I can’t help but notice how this injury parallels what’s been happening in my personal life. My marriage ended almost as suddenly and painfully, and my heart has suffered some other blindsides since. “Experts” who look at my ability to financially rebound say my prognosis is poor. Loved ones worry that my road less traveled has detoured into a dead end. My emotional, physical, social and spiritual lives are sorely in need of a healing. I’m unsure how to “grow” a new life or a new fingertip without the necessity of even more drastic “cuts.”

Down deep inside, I know I’ll pull through. I’ll regenerate. But some days when I remove the bandages—both literal and figurative—and stare at the blackened, desiccated tissue, evidence looks to the contrary. Even in my own head, I often lose the argument with The Naysayer. “It’s my own fault,” I think as I don another layer of fleece to avoid turning up the thermostat another notch. “I’m a damn fool. Just look at the mess I’ve made of my life.”

Winter is coming. Time to prepare for the cold and the darkness. Instead of wallowing in self-recriminations, my ego says it’s time to be proactive about this and all the other seemingly impossible tasks I need to address at the same time. In my mental chores list, I want to see evidence of progress: Regrow fingertip. Check. Make a truckload of money. Check. Make some new friends. Check. Remember to smile while doing numbers 1, 2, & 3. Check.”

But my heart says that instead of trying to outrun the pain, I need to sit still and feel it. Regeneration is a slow and microscopic process. It’s holy work, and at the moment it’s my highest calling. As the Talmud says, “Every blade of grass has its Angel that bends over it and whispers “Grow, grow!”

So, I’ll just sit here quietly in the carnage. I’ll breathe into the pain. Surrender to “what is.” Listen to the whisper of my angels. And, ever so slowly heal from the inside out.

One Fell Swoop

8 thoughts on “One Fell Swoop

  • December 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm
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    Loved this entry, Lynn. You’ve certainly turned the messy finger into a worthy metaphor. As I read of your decision to heal naturally, I felt my soul nodding. I also felt that loud siren of the emergency, the pills, the surgery, the others and just extreme difference between that screaming takeover and the quiet and certainty of your chosen path.

    On the more mundane and venial sense, it’s so good to know someone else thinks they’ve fucked up. Reading your admittance makes me realize I’m not such a screw up. Mostly because I’m quite certain you are not.

    Much love,
    Alicia

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  • November 12, 2012 at 7:46 pm
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    Thank you for your wonderful words, dear Lynn. They are like a salve to me. Your energy lifts me up.
    You’re frankness, open-ness and especially your love saturate every line. I send healing thoughts and prayers toward your hand and your heart. I am so glad I have met you. Having you in my world makes it a better place.

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  • November 6, 2012 at 10:55 pm
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    The mystic messages of this journey are just unfolding, very much like your bandages I would think. I feel you turning into a sister, a sage guide, an always present friend, traveling the jagged peaks to empowerment, finally knowing how incredible we truly are becoming in the midst of all our drama. This of course is novel speak for the way this writing moved me and how supportive I am of your wholeness with or without a tip on your finger.

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    • November 7, 2012 at 10:19 am
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      Becky, Thanks for your inspiring words and unfailing support. I agree with you. These craggy peaks we scale to empowerment are necessarily foreboding. How else could we learn from them? ~Lynn

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  • November 5, 2012 at 6:06 pm
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    If it is in the Talmud, it is a sure thing.

    If you need kindling it is easier to ask.

    David

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    • November 6, 2012 at 7:07 pm
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      Thanks David. Do you deliver?

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  • November 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm
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    You write beautifully, Lynn; of course, writing beautiful about pain and struggle is sort of a mixed blessing, isn’t it? Most of us would rather write beautifully without darkness compelling us to stumble forward and confess our battles. I am reminded, and will never forget, having lost EVERYTHING, living in a 12 x 15 room (in fact, the room I’m typing this in, isn’t life strange?) a scant 12 years ago. The darkness that wrapped around me like a snake in the night, staring, and taunting me with my personal, embarrassing failures. That time, thankfully, passed; what lies ahead is out of my control, but I prefer never to revisit them again, but to have learned whatever I needed to grow into whatever remains of this life.

    I’m struck on many levels by what you’ve written; the immediate–and painful–injury you’ve experienced. The difficulty of relationships, especially those which end out of our control (or perhaps, wishes). The rolling waves of one thing after another, seemingly, in a world we’ve long since left –thankfully–that reminds us, THIS is YOUR fault. Yada-yada, yada . . . sometimes an ounce of truth turns into a damning indictment that does nothing but make things worse. Maybe you shouldn’t have chopped the wood, that’s pretty simple. But you did. Thus, the finger-whacking took place.

    And too, the struggles to make ends meet, especially here in these deceptively beautiful mountains. So gorgeous, yet, so sterile when it comes to opportunity. I’ve always viewed life here as unfriendly to young families. As I’ve gotten older here, these last thirty years, come to realize the challenge that is for all of us regardless of children and careers or not. It’s not easy anywhere.

    I send you the richest hopes and good thoughts for Peace, Provision, Protection, Power, Passion, and Prosperity possible. Thank you for sharing, Lynn. Strength and Clarity. I am so glad Norma and I have met you and appreciate knowing you. And look forward to spending time together again. ~Peace…

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    • November 6, 2012 at 11:26 am
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      Eric, Your words are a soothing balm. Thanks for your encouragement, insights, and especially your friendship. Maybe that post was my nadir, at least in terms of finances. No sooner had I posted it than I got an inquiry from a most interesting, successful, and humble man who would like me to write his life story! Life is a marvelous mystery tour, isn’t it? I am glad to be sharing the road with you, at least for now. And now is all there is. ~Lynn

      Reply

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