The big tall tailor always comes
To little boys who suck their thumbs...
Two chilling lines of children’s (cough) poetry that I’ve never forgotten from my own childhood. The gist of this (certificate 15?) little poem is that little boys who suck their thumbs will be visited by a sinister tailor who would be most unlikely to be able to produce a clean DBS disclosure; he is equipped with scissors specially designed for snipping the errant thumb-sucker’s thumb clean off. (Read the full poem if you dare here, complete with gruesome illustrations I also remember from my infancy.)
I don’t recall whether or not I sucked my thumb as a small child – probably not given the terrifying tutelage of the tall tailor. But my 5-year-old does. Or rather, did – he recently severed the end of his left thumb. Thus his thumb-sucking days came to an abrupt end (the other thumb, he says, ‘doesn’t taste nice’ – so that’s that.)
The loss of part of his thumb wasn’t, in this case, due to a tall tailor, but an accident involving two boats, lots of blood, an ambulance ride, a small op, and a consolatory bowl of ice cream. A fortnight later, his thumb is now dressed, undressed, redressed, and healing well, thank God. It may even heal completely (we’re praying so). My son seems less disturbed by the whole episode, frankly, than his parents
Why do I write tailors and thumbs and the severance thereof?
Simply that such things can bring a sense of perspective. We’ve been undergoing a fair amount of grief recently due the closure of our community (see last post). Yet, in that moment when I sat in the ambulance and watched the paramedic write ‘amputation’ on his accident record, I experienced a change of perspective. The end of an era, disappointment, dying dreams – such things are indeed painful. But compared to loss of life or limb – not so very terrible.
There's no denying that we're going through a rather difficult time. Thumbs down, so to speak. If you're a praying person, please pray for us, and if not, then please (as one of my friends puts it) do some 'good-vibing' towards us.
And yet: perspective. Our son is alive (sans thumb-tip). My friends and fellow workers will still be my friends and fellow workers in the new days to come. A new day is dawning. No-one has died. In fact – as many have tried to help me to see – this is in fact a good time, a God time.
And – here’s the rub – even death itself is provisional. With God, as Julian of Norwich once famously expressed it, ‘All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.’
So there, big tall tailor!