Hoarding is one thing. That is easy. Cleaning out is another, not an easy thing for me. But the day comes when the small menial tasks need to be done. And the Bible says do not despise the day of small things.
I have been labelled a hoarder, and although I don’t totally agree with that, well at best then, a recovering hoarder ? I have yet a long way to go. How some people can ruthlessly throw out their sort-after possessions beats me. I don’t easily throw things away. This may just be a throw-back from my frugal upbringing. I have learnt overtime though, to surreptitiously absorb excess into my domain. Like any good South African taxi driver will say … there is always room for one more !!
I am learning to de-clutter, but not so much with my papers on words and writings. And come the first month of the year I seem to have an automatic resolve to go through all my “papers and writings” – these precious snippets of wisdom that I have collected. I usually make little piles of the favourites and then keep them in a special box – for next year’s clean out ! It’s hard for me to discard “old friends”.
I am so glad I do this, for if I had to be ruthless with my wisdom collection I would never have re-discovered the amazing snippets taken from Philip Yancey’s book on Dr Paul Brand, and his insight on the power of the blood, which I had re-written on a piece of notepaper and kept !
The book : In the Likeness of God. The Dr Paul Brand Tribute Edition of Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and In His Image. ISBN 0-310-25905-3 Zondervan
Read and marvel with me, as he describes the red blood that runs through all our veins.
But first, allow me to introduce you to Dr Brand, then you will have an appreciation of his insight and his writing.
And incidentally, notice how Philip Yancey describes, in the Preface of the book, how he had learned about Dr Paul Brand in the first place !
…”my wife cleaned out the closet of a medical-supply house and in the process stumbles across an intriguing essay he had written on “The Gift of Pain”
And further on in the book he writes …
“…. I can imagine God taking great delight in steering me to Dr Brand
(through my wife’s serendipitous discovery of his essay in a closet, of course) at a critical time in my spiritual journey.
Aha !!! – So there is value in hoarding … and, value too in cleaning out, and good housekeeping, that can take us from the menial to the magnificent ! Discoveries and re-discoveries, as I had just made.
Meet Dr Paul Brand, both a good and great man…. but allow Mr Yancey to express in his own words from the book :
” An orthopedic surgeon, Dr Brand had spent most of his medical career in India, where he made a dramatic discovery about leprosy, one of the oldest and most feared diseases. Careful research convinced him that the terrible manifestations of the cruel disease – missing toes and fingers, blindness, ulcers, facial deformities – all trace back to the single cause of painlessness. Leprosy silences nerve cells, and as a result its victims unwittingly destroy themselves, bit by bit, because they cannot feel pain. When he moved to a high-tech laboratory in the United States, he applied what he had learned about painlessness to other diseases, such as diabetes, thus helping to prevent tens of thousands of amputations each year” ……..
“… The conversations that stand out sharpest to me now are those in which he recalled individual patients, “nobodies” on whom he had lavished medical attention. When he began his pioneering work, he was the only orthopedic surgeon in the world working among fifteen million victims of leprosy. He and Margaret (his wife) performed several dozen surgical procedures on some of these patients, restoring rigid claws into usable hands through innovative tendon transfers, remaking feet, forestalling blindness, transplanting eyebrow, fashioning new noses.
He told me of his patients’ family histories, the awful rejection they had experience as the disease presented itself, the trial-and-error treatments of doctor and patient experimenting together. Almost always his eyes would moisten and he would wipe away tears as he remembered their suffering. To him these, among the most neglected people on earth, were not nobodies, but people made in the image of God,and he devoted his life to try to honour that image.”
“Most impressive to me, the wisest and most brilliant man I have ever met devoted much of his life to some of the lowest people on the planet : members of the Untouchable cast in India afflicted with leprosy.”…….
“Dr Brand described his writing journey this way : “In a sense we doctors are like employees at the complaint desk of a large department store. We tend to get a biased view of the quality of the product when we hear about its aches and pains all day. In this little manuscript, which I set aside long ago,
I tried instead to pause and wonder at what God made, the human body. ” ...
Indeed Philip Yancey’s book captures, apart from the life and insights of Dr Paul Brand, also the comparison of the human body to that of the Body of Christ.
The notes that I had taken from the book were on the chapter on the blood. I will try to compose the snippets in such a way that will show the magnificence of the life-giving blood that runs unceremoniously through our veins every moment of the day, every moment of our lives.
Just to elaborate a little, an incident occurred at the Connaught Hospital where a young beautiful accident victim was wheeled into his ward. Dr Brand at first could not feel a pulse, and thought she was dead. Then he witnessed how she came back to life as new blood was administered to her, as the blood began to flow through her veins.
” That young woman entered my life for only an hour or so, but the experience left me utterly changed. I had seen a miracle : a corpse resurrected, the creation of Eve when breath entered into and animated her body. If medicine, if blood could do this… “
This incident change the course of Dr Brand’s life.
The following extracts are what brought me to the brink of astonishment, as I read about the miracle and power of blood.
” For most of us, the organ of blood, if one can think of this fluid mass as an organ, comes to consciousness mainly when we begin to lose it. Then, the sight of it in tinted urine, a nosebleed, or a weeping wound provokes alarm. We miss the dramatic sense of blood’s power that I saw demonstrated in the Connaught patient – the power that sustains our lives at every moment ……… ”
” ….. perhaps a technological metaphor would serve best today.
Imagine an enormous tube snaking southward from Canada through the Amazon delta, plunging into oceans only to surface at every inhabited island …… ”
” Such a pipeline exists inside each one of us, servicing not six billion but one hundred trillion cells in the human body. An endless supply of oxygen, amino acids, nitrogen, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sugars, lipids, cholesterol, and hormones surges past our cells, carried on blood cell rafts or suspended in the fluid. Each cell has special withdrawal privileges to gather the resources needed to fuel a tiny engine for its complex chemical reactions.
In addition, that same pipeline ferries away refuse, exhaust gasses, and worn-out chemicals. In the interest of economical transport, the body dissolves its vital substances into a liquid (much as a coal is shipped more efficiently through a slurry pipeline than by truck or train) Five or six quarts of this all-purpose fluid suffice for the body’s hundred trillion cells.”
“… What the telescope does to nearby galaxies, the microscope does to a drop of blood : it unveils the staggering reality. A speck of blood the size of this letter “o” contains 5,000,000 red cells, 300,000 platelets and 7,000 white cells. The fluid is actually an ocean stock with living matter…”
” A view through a microscope clarifies the various components of blood but gives no picture of the daily frenzy encountered by each cell….
” Sixty thousand miles of blood vessels link every living cell, even the blood vessels themselves are fed by blood vessels…. ”
” An average red cell endures the cycle of loading, unloading, and jostling through the body for a half million round trips over four months…”
” The components of this circulatory system cooperate to accomplish a simple goal : nourishing and cleansing each living cell. If any part of the network breaks down – the heart takes an unscheduled rest, a clot overgrows and blocks an artery, a defect diminished the red cells’ oxygen capacity – life ebbs away. The brain, master of the body, can survive intact only five minutes without replenishment.”
” The drama of resurrection enacted before me in Connaught Hospital takes place without fanfare in each heartbeat of a healthy human being. Every cell in every body lives at the mercy of blood.”
One can only but stand in awe of the miracle of who were truly are – God’s intricate and magnificent workmanship – the human body.
Saint Augustine said “Men go abroad to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering.”
We can assuredly agree with Psalmist of 139 where he glorifies God with these words
You created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I fearfully and wonderfully made.