A Reflection on Lent

Falat's "Ash Wednesday," 1881.

Falat’s “Ash Wednesday,” 1881.

BBC Future (whatever that is) ran a story yesterday about a woman, Lindsay Ess, who recently had a double hand transplant. After losing her hands to an infection, she was given the opportunity to do what only 70 other people around the world have done — receive another’s human hands as her own. She reports that, despite the inherent difficulties associated with the transplant (the emotional and physical effects of having someone else’s hands now become your own, the immunosuppressing medicines she will have to take for the rest of her life, etc.), “having the hands has transformed her life.” Still, though, she cannot yet do all of the things she used to be able to do with her own hands.

After wondering whether I would prefer a human hand transplant over prosthetic hands (I wouldn’t), I began to think about my own body (as I have been doing for the past few weeks since a recent Hashimoto’s flare-up). And I thought about how, while it is amazing that we are now transplanting hands and that this type of thing works, our bodies are still always decaying. Every day we are breaking down, everyday we are drawing nearer to that good night. I was reminded of those desperate and beautiful words that St. Paul utters in the Epistle to the Romans, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24).

The Church calendar places us now right in the midst of the Lenten season, where our minds turn inwards to see the darkness of our own hearts; it is a sober and somber time, but one that (for me) feels so rich that I will risk the somberness just to get a taste of the depth and richness. Even if you are not “religious” or “spiritual,” the prevailing theme of Lent is something that — if you are old enough to be reading this — you will have to consider at some point in your life: your own mortality and impending death. Because whether near or distant, it is coming for you. One day, none of our hands will work, neither our hands nor any other part of us.

For those of us who believe this stuff, though, that day will not be the end but only the title page to the story that will go on forever, and each word of the story will grow sweeter and sweeter. And it is for this reason and with this hope that Lent does not remain dark, but looks forward to the brilliance of the Light that will one day come.


Laura Creel (@Little_Utopia) is the managing editor of Little Utopia.lc-e13581285661351

Previously from Laura Creel:
Viral Video of the Week: Wheel of Fortune Domination
Arthur Chu Dominates Jeopardy!, Haterz Foiled Again
Enough With the Pizza Already: Reactions to the 2014 Academy Awards
I Found Love in a Heart-Shaped Place
This is What a Place Like CityChurch Can Do

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