Putting the Damage On


Two weeks ago, I preached. The sermon is posted here, and I'm really proud of it. It's possibly my best sermon yet, but it was hard. The text was Genesis 22 (The Akedah – The Binding of Isaac), and the lectionary dumped this text in my lap during one of my fullest weeks in ministry. I had just done the funeral of a friend, which is never easy. I had also done the wedding of some friends only days before. It was a week where I was sure of my calling, but walking around with fear and trembling at the heaviness of my job in all of its fullness.

So, I finished preaching a very difficult sermon at the end of a very difficult week, and as I was shaking hands with folks at the door, eager to go home and nap when a youth came to get me.

"Uh – you might want to come see Jackson. He cut his hand kind of badly."

Oh dear.

So, I excused myself as quickly as I could from the line of affirming and reflective congregants. I ran to my office, grabbed my keys, and hustled over to the children's wing where I found my oldest son, whom I love, sobbing in the arms of his father.

Matt had blood smeared on his shirt. Jackson was screaming. Cooper was confused. Folks looked concerned. I got a quick look at J's cut, and was sure of what they were saying – he needed stitches. He'd been running around in a Sunday School class, fell and cut himself on – a sandbox? A door frame? A jagged dinosaur tooth? A cotton ball?! It mattered not, really. He had an inch-long cut on his palm, just below his pinky and tracing the path of his lifeline. There seemed to be some fatty tissue making a guest appearance. We were headed to the hospital.

I put my scared, screaming little big boy in the backseat. He kept repeating, "I don't WANT to go to my hospital! I want to just go home!!!" I calmed him a little with the promise of a trip to Arden's Garden for a smoothie. A boy like this needs a little boost of fruity, wholesome, protein-infused goodness. We were in for a long afternoon. He stayed in the car while I collected the booty (no – really! They've brought back Veggie Booty!), and we headed to Egleston.

He calmed down when we arrived, and we settled into the waiting room to watch "Toy Story." This was going to be okay! He held his left hand to himself like a little paw, careful not to use it or move it. We put a napkin underneath to sop up the blood as he held his hand to his chest like a not-so-mini Napoleon. But, he was brave enough to play with toys and ask about the movie. After an hour we got called back to a room. We made potty trips and watched Sponge Bob. Hours passed like… hours. Then, the doctor came in.

They sterilized the cut and applied some awesome numbing cream (no shots!). Then, in came the team to do 2-3 stitches on his paw. The very patient nurse began to insert the fishhook to start stitching, finished the first stitch and… pop! Out it came. There was more bleeding. And screaming. We tried to distract Jackson with a book of Disney characters, but he didn't recognize any of them. He had to watch – not watching was worse. The nurse made several attempts, but the skin where he was sliced was so thin that it wouldn't hold a stitch. It was nauseating and horrible.

So, the doctor swooped in, inserted the fishhook into a fattier part of J's hand (which I'm SURE wasn't numbed), and got one big, good stitch in. He was so brave. I was so unhinged. They gave him a Scooby Doo sticker after he was all finished (Wow! Thanks! A Scooby Doo sticker! You know -they give these things away at, like, the grocery store. That's far less painful than hours of waiting and getting sewn together like drapes. But, thanks anyway!). Jackson was unimpressed. I tried to tell the doctor it was because we don't "do" stuff like that (Thomas and Little Einsteins for us – and that's about it). But, Jackson was wearing a Lightening McQueen shirt (long story), and it seemed to undermine my alterna-parenting claims.

We finally got home with one stitch, several steri-strips, and instructions to keep his hand dry. Cooper responded by promptly dumping an entire cup of water on J's paw, and the steri-strips came unglued within 3 hours.

So, for the last 13 nights, we have enjoyed a ritual post-bathtime of washing J's hand, anointing it with BooBoo Juice (a real product!), slathering on neosporin, squishing on a gauze pad, yards of cotton bandanging and some first aid tape. Jackson, so adorably, calls his hand, "My Damage." He's trying to say bandage, but this description works well. The stitch came out after 8 days, and his damage is healing beautifully. We're now to the phase of dosing it with Vitamin E oil to minimize scarring. The cut is healing beautifully, and life goes on.

But J doesn't seem to realize that. He's gotten into the ritual and routine of being anointed and tended to in a particular way. His binding each night has become a comfort. I'm not sure what to make of this, since it was The Binding of Isaac that kicked off this mess. I suppose this is the difference in my story and Abraham's. When the binding of J's wound was complete, what remained was healing. When Isaac arose from the altar, his wounds remained. I'll never understand this story in its fullness. But, I do know that now we are gifted with restoration. Healing. Resurrection. New Life.



4 replies
  1. Shannon
    Shannon says:

    Thank you so much. I was completely captured by your writing. What a wonderful gift you have. I will go and read your sermon now.

  2. Mandy
    Mandy says:

    Thank you all for your kind comments! Just for an update – J’s cut healed beautifully, thanks to the Vitamin E and lots of care. As an aside, his 2 year old brother still points at the hospital when we drive by it and asks if anyone needs to go and “get a cut.”


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