Scarcely a week passes without someone saying, “Oh, I’ve been reading your blog”. No matter who says this – a close friend, a family member, or perhaps a complete stranger – it still comes with something of a jolt. Although I know it’s extremely public, available to a huge slice of human kind, my blog is primarily a personal journal; with it’s very public nature being fundamentally a method of clarifying my own thinking. I am using you, my reader, to distil my thoughts. Like “iron sharpenning iron”, the knowledge that you are reading my thoughts compels me to think more deeply and strive for more honesty than I might otherwise achieve. Some readers have commented that they feel like voyeurs, and I sometimes wonder what forces me to cross lines of propriety and make so public some aspects of my private world. Perhaps I should have posed that question to the bevy of psychiatric specialists I recently met. Or perhaps not…
Well, this week, as a special treat, and on the last day of my youth, I will be taking personal disclosure to an entirely new level!
“that doesn’t look good.”
‘Bertha’ is the collective name my Favourite Wife and I have assigned to my harem of personal attendants, the bevy of middle aged nurses who will soon be flocking to The Coliseum.
One never likes to be told that there is something wrong with one; and when one is at the unenviable disadvantage of being showered one tends to panic all the more. My toes were the focus of Bertha’s attention, and she pointed out to me with professional concern a nasty patch of flaky skin between digits 7 & 8. I reflexively crunched my toes tightly together against further scrutiny. Later in the day, having achieved the privacy of solitude (in contrast to the utter lack of privacy at shower time) I made my own inspection and to my enduring horror discovered that digits 1 through 6 along with numbers 9 and 10 were equally compromised! I had a case of full blown, galloping tinea. (Get it? Hooves? Feet? No problems with the top end!) Beware reader, lest you ever have to delegate your own foot washing!
In the days since I have cowered in embarrassment through each and every shower, purely on account of my toes. Which is rather bizarre if you think it through.
This unpleasant turn of events only adds insult to injury, because it is not the first podiatric complaint of the year. Sitting down as much as I do allows gravity to do dreadful things to the fluid in one’s legs; and by evening my formerly statuesque feet have more of the look of a balloon dog inflated by a children’s-party clown. I detest the annihilation of my lean, athletic extremities; an aspect of my physique in which I once took enormous pride!
I find this dilapidation excruciating. It’s a horrible thing to be confronted with the end of vigour; the shattering of the illusion of youth which I’ve been able to sustain for the better part of my half century*. I think, however, that I have long been aware of the pride involved in my carefully manicured sense of invincibility. When I was discharging my duties as a pastor, or even as a hospital chaplain for a time, I was always secretly glad that I was not ‘one of them’, no matter how genuine my concern for someone in need. Physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially, ethnically, spiritually, financially, culturally, aesthetically; I was always on the right side of the line. And that, surely, is an uglier thing than athlete’s foot.
This was the temptation that Eve succumbed to: “In the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing both good and evil.” Not merely having the feet of an Adonis, but critiquing all things, knowing good from evil, deciding which is which, and whom is whom, sitting in judgement upon the whole world. And it can only be so long until you find in yourself the very thing you found so insufferable in another.
Well, it seems I’ve reached my word limit! I was planning to explain a redemptive story about tinea from the second chapter of Daniel; but instead you will just have to figure it out for yourself…
The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.
*Technically: forty nine and three hundred and sixty-four three hundred and sixty-fifths.