Years ago, I wisely gifted visiting friends the large, stainless steel mandoline I had received years earlier as a wedding present. (I wrote “I received” instead of “we received ” because my beloved isn’t a cook.)
“You want me to just take it? It’s beautiful. Almost new.” Zanthe exclaimed.
“That sharp blade, my brain,” I explained. “It’s only a matter of time until I can only count to 9 ⅞.”
She laughed and took the gift.
At some point in the years afterwards, a petite three-inch-bladed OXO mini mandoline joined my array of kitchen tools.
And, I used it pretty well for a long while.
Until it got me.
A morning Hebrew prayer thanks God for our wisdom and then for creating within us Ne’ka’vim-Ne’ka’vim Ha’lu’lim-Ha’lu’lim.
A singular Ne’Kev is a puncture.
A singular Ha’lul is a hollow.
Ne’ka’vim is more than one Ne’Kev.
Ha’lu’lim is more than one Ha’lul.
Ne’ka’vim-Ne’ka’vim means a lot, a lot of Ne’Ka’vim.
Ha’lu’lim-Ha’lu’lim means a lot, a lot of Ha’lu’lim.
The prayer thanks God for creating within us openings and hollows, openings and hollows. Lots of them. Openings and openings. Hollows and hollows. Openings and hollows.
I am filled with awe, in the mornings—and other times, as well—when I think about all the openings and hollows in my body, all functioning as smoothly as they do.
I stand at the counter in the corner of the kitchen—near the sink, with counter space on both sides of me. A pot of water is up to boil, and I’ve scrubbed the potatoes.
Tonight will be an oven-baked chicken, scalloped potatoes, and caesar(ish) dressing over quartered romaine hearts.
For the scalloped potatoes, I need one-quarter-inch rounds. And I get an idea. The three-inch mandoline can cut pieces of perfectly uniform width, leading to even cooking, and smooth, delicious, creamy, cheesy potatoes.
And it goes great.
I’m proud of myself for this clever thought. However, I’m not paying the required attention to the task at hand.
I slice through a part of my finger and nail.
I scream, look at what I’ve done, and then, as calmly as I can, make my way to the bathroom to bandage myself up.
Some really sharp cuts don’t hurt at first.
Sometimes there is some time before the pain registers and before the blood flows.
Sometimes, when a trauma happens, there is some time before hurt registers and before the emotions flow.
Sometimes, we find ourselves witnessing something that doesn’t hurt yet, but certainly will.
As Jane cuts through the layers of medical tape in the process of re-dressing my wound the next day, we get to talking. Forgetting my desire to stop asking pointless rhetorical questions until the words are out of my mouth, I ask, “Do you know what’s amazing?”
She plays along, “What?”
“I have to do no extra thinking about it, and my finger will heal itself. The skin part knows what to do, and the nail part knows what to do. I don’t know what they know. Or how they know it. That’s kinda cool.”
The next day when we are again in the kitchen, Jane comments, “You know that thing you were talking about with your finger healing? I’ve been thinking about it. Pretty amazing.”
Do you understand what I’m talking about here?
Take just a moment to think about these bodies we have.
You don’t consciously beat your heart, heal a cut finger, or breathe.
Boom. Voila. Hallelujah.
It’s inconceivable (ironically) the more you think about it.
Openings and hollows. Openings and hollows.
Perhaps I will send my friend that smaller mandoline as a Christmas gift.