In the blink of an eye

By Brenda Hopf

October 4, 2019

It happened in the blink of an eye.

In fact, I think it happened quicker than that. Yet as it was happening, it seemed like an eternity; I was already regretting my carelessness and wanting a “do-over.”

I was hungry for homemade baked sweet potato fries. I don’t make them often, likely because sweet potatoes are not easy to peel and they are even more difficult to cut into pieces due to their particularly hard texture.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a stickler about safety. Ask my husband. Ask my kids and grandkids. I am always considering the safety aspect of any activity. I say “be careful” or “be safe” more times than they care to hear. Admittedly, I am probably a little over-the-top when it comes to safety.

That is why what happened that evening as I prepared my sweet potato fries is almost unthinkable. I always use my handy-dandy crinkle cutter and have a routine. This has always been a flawless routine, until this one time. As I pressed the sweet potato against the cutting board with my right hand on the crinkle cutter, it dislodged from the sweet potato and slipped to the left where my left hand was not out of the way. The result was a deep cut above the top knuckle of one finger which ended up being a bloody mess. I quickly examined my finger to assess the damage and took action to care for the wound.

We are constantly reminded to care for our physical well-being by labels, books, videos and people. We are instructed to “be safe” at home, work and when we are out and about with all our other activities so as to not cause injury to ourselves or others; and more often than not, we follow a certain protocol. At those times when we are careless and an injury occurs to ourselves or others, we act quickly, doing whatever is necessary to promote healing.

Can we say we do the same when we are wounded emotionally or spiritually? As with the physical injury to my finger, through human weakness, we can let our guard down and it can happen in the blink of an eye. We hurt others and others hurt us. I will admit that I am not always so quick to address these types of wounds and take the necessary steps for healing…and that is a real tragedy. Why do I say that this is a real tragedy? While the healing of physical wounds is extremely important, the healing of emotional and spiritual wounds is on a whole other level because it can have a bearing on our eternal salvation. What could be more important than doing everything possible to ensure we will end up in heaven for eternity?

We know how quickly we can inflict emotional and spiritual wounds on others with our words and actions, and how the same can happen to us as others injure us in this same way. When we let our guard down, human nature can take over; and it can happen in the blink of an eye, much like the cut to my finger. If the injury was inflicted upon us by another, rather than forgiving that person, we often leave the wound gaping open, prone to an infection that continues to grow and fester. I don’t know about you, but this most definitely affects my mood and my relationship with God; and, depending on the seriousness of the offense, could ultimately affect where I will spend eternity.

The cut to my finger was a little scary. It was bad but could have been much worse. The thought of the emotional and spiritual injuries I have inflicted on others and those that others have inflicted on me – and that remain unaddressed and continue to bleed and fester – are beyond scary because of what could be at stake; eternal salvation. Just as I acted quickly to care for my wounded finger, I should be even more diligent about taking care to seek healing for my emotional and spiritual wounds.

The healing of emotional and spiritual wounds is a never-ending process. While our intention should be to always strive to do better, even if we succeed in doing our very best, in the blink of an eye we can slip and as we realize our failings may wish we could have a “do-over.” Wounds caused by our sins do not have a “do-over.” We do, however, have a perfect solution to help us with the healing process. We can turn to our loving Father and his unending mercy through the reception of the sacraments. At Mass, we are able to receive God’s highest expression of mercy through the Body and Blood of Christ. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as our sins are forgiven, we receive grace to strengthen us to avoid future sins and we are reconciled with the Church. That is a lot of healing, healing that is essential in determining where we might spend eternity.

Sin can happen in the blink of an eye…so can our death. Let the healing begin!

Brenda Hopf is a member of Divine Mercy Parish in Dubois County and also contributes to the “Sharing the Load” column in The Message.