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Hand and Foot

August 24, 2014

There is an artists’ cooperative known as Mouth and Foot Painting Artists which markets the paintings of disabled artists [1]. Unable to use their hands, member artists paint with a brush held either in their mouths or with their feet.

Complaints, Complaints

How often we complain about one or another routine task. Whose turn is it to do the dishes tonight? Why hasn’t the garbage been taken out yet? That bag is overflowing! If those dust bunnies get any bigger, they’ll have to start paying rent. Where is the vacuum anyway? Do I have to do EVERYTHING around here?

Never does it cross our minds that simple chores are impossible for some people.

Nerves and Muscles

It requires 34 muscles and 48 nerves to operate the human hand — a tool with which we can perform brain surgery, play Chopin, use a jackhammer, fly a kite, or brush a child’s hair. The foot and ankle together have over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments. With these, we can run a marathon, dance on air at a prom, or tip toe into the room of a sleeping infant.

But all elements — bone, nerve, muscle, and sinew –must function correctly or we face major problems.


The most common causes of paralysis are stroke, head and spinal cord injuries, and multiple sclerosis. That list may not sound very long or threatening. Think back, however, on the number of falls, auto accidents, sports injuries, and work-related accidents you and your loved ones have experienced over the years. In each instance, you were spared, if you are still able to use your hands and feet.

And those are just the obvious causes of paralysis. Less likely causes include brain tumors, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and Lyme disease.

War, of course, has greatly increased the number of head and spinal cord injuries, adding amputations and massive burns to the list of life-altering injuries.  Many of our warriors must cope with a harsh new reality, no longer able to employ the very weapons they once used to defend us.

Starting to think now that you may have been blessed? Care to reconsider those complaints?

“ ‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sin’ – He said to the man who was paralyzed, ‘I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house’ ” (Luke 5: 24).

Father, we take so much for granted. You have been generous to us beyond all measure. Yet we complain at the slightest provocation.

Forgive our thankless hearts. Remind us of those who struggle daily with ordinary tasks. We lift them up to You, as the paralytic was lifted down through the roof by his friends.

Allow us to be Your hands and feet, Father. Help us to serve others as You would have us do, without thought of our own convenience.


[1] Though there has been some controversy surrounding MFPA, the men and women producing this artwork deserve our respect and admiration, both for their talent and courage.


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