On The Other Hand -- Missing Fingers


Destiny, the pearl of great price in our modern, technological society, is a fragile thing. Delicate. So too are choices -- and the consequence of our choices.


Just ask Vino. Sweet Vino. Once, long ago, he lived. Now he’s dead. No one lays flowers on his grave. No one knows where it is. He simply lies there, somewhere, in an unknown, unnamed grave in the Holt Cemetery, a potter’s field for the poor in New Orleans.


Lingering and limping through memory – as he did through life – he turns and looks at me. I see him as I saw him as a child -- as an old man, an old man with missing fingers who walked on the side of his crippled foot, limping through life. And now, the dead Vino, the old man who once lived and worked in his studio above the Old Shanty, a neighborhood bar on Washington Avenue in New Orleans – he turns and looks at me.


“I remember you,” says I in the midst of silent memories. “I remember you.”


Vino was an artist and a prominent European classical sculptor. Marble. Marble was his clay. He saw, chiseled and shaped beauty, freeing it from large slabs of raw marble harvested from the earth. Many of his greatest works, noble statues of men and women of God, stand in European cathedrals – a mute testimony to a man who once lived – a man who now lies buried, somewhere, in an unknown, unnamed grave in the Holt Cemetery.


“Vino died the other day,” says mom. “They found him lying on his studio floor – his face half eaten away by rats.”


Marble was his clay. Alcohol was his nemesis. First the man takes a drink – then the drink takes the man. Alcohol had taken Vino where he didn’t want to go. He became what he never thought he would become. Vino discovered the hard way that destiny is a fragile thing. Delicate.


Were it not for alcohol he would have been a wealthy man, a man of renown, an acclaimed man of high culture. Instead, he was scammed out of his money and out of his works by shrewd art dealers and self-serving investors.


In a drunken stupor he stumbled and broke his ankle and, when he finally sobered up it was too late to reset it – and so he walked with a limp. No one knows if it was alcohol or anger that led him to chisel off several of his fingers. One day they were there – the next, they were gone. And so was his opportunity for success in life. And now Vino was dead.


“Vino died the other day,” says mom. “They found him lying on his studio floor – his face half eaten away by rats.”


Success. Destiny. Failure. Faith. There’s a thin line that divides all four. To cross from one to the other is no guarantee that all will go well; or that all will go wrong. But, sometimes things do go wrong. Sometimes we fail – and, we feel alone and wish for better days. We wish we could turn back the clock. Remake a decision. Retrack harsh words. Start again. We wish, wish, wish. Do you ever wish?


In Numbers 13, Moses sent out 12 spies, one from each tribe. Caleb and Joshua brought back a good report of the land but, because the other 10 spies brought back a bad report, the people did not want to enter the Promised Land. As a result, the Israelites stayed another 40 years wandering in the desert before entering the Promised Land. Only Caleb and Joshua brought back good reports about the land they had seen.


For Caleb and Joshus, Destiny was Delayed! For the 10 spies and the people of Israel who disobeyed God because of their report, Destiny was Denied! Destiny was Deferred, however, to the next generation who entered the Promised Land 40 yrs later.


Destiny Delayed! Destiny Denied! Destiny Deferred!

Destiny is a fragile thing! Delicate!

So too are dreams -- and choices!

John Dee Jeffries

fbc.chalmette@gmail.com

It is never too late to do what God wants you to do.

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