The day I couldn’t make the sign of the cross

If you read my previous posts, then I don’t need to remind you again how I am as a Christian … a Roman Catholic to be specific. I am not pious in any way, but I have faith. I am not a prayerful person but I pray. I am not someone who owns a pew in the church but I do go to Sunday mass.

I would say the “most”  Catholic moments I have every day is making the sign of the cross. To me, it is a prayer that I do in all sincerity and solemnity, however hurried life is. I make the sign of the cross as I get up in the morning, I make the sign of the cross while driving, I make the sign of the cross when I pass by a church or any place of worship, I make the sign of the cross whenever I feel like I need to.

Bert Ghezzy of OSV Weekly, in one of his articles, said, “The Sign of the Cross is a profession of faith in God as he revealed himself. It serves as an abbreviated form of the Apostles’ Creed. Touching our forehead, breast, and shoulders … we declare our belief in the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. We are announcing our faith in what God has done — the creation of all things, the redemption of humanity from sin and death, and the establishment of the Church, which offers new life to all. When we sign ourselves we are making ourselves aware of God’s presence and opening ourselves to his action in our lives.

Very well said I say … because to me, making the sign of the cross means more than a gesture….it is a means of communication.
Imagine my anguish when one day I couldn’t make the sign of the cross. I felt crippled … literally, emotionally, psychologically, and most of all, spiritually.

It started off on a Wednesday with a slight pain on my upper arm. I ignored it and told myself that I just need to rest since I’ve been tirelessly working on my laptop. Thursday, the pain started radiating through my right hand making it difficult to operate the computer mouse. I applied my trusted Amrutanjan before going to bed hoping the pain would vanish. I had an early morning meeting on Friday and so I drove off to work unmindful of the nagging pain. That fateful day, I could do no work on my laptop as my fingers were almost frozen. The pain increased every time I try and force myself to press my keyboard. Ignoring my colleague’s advice to leave the car in the office garage and take the cab, I struggled to drive back home. Switching the ignition was an ordeal, and to make matters worse, traffic congestion was at its worst. An ambulance passed by, and that is when I broke down.

One practice that I do conscientiously is to make the sign of the cross when I see an ambulance or hear its siren. As I lift my fingers to execute the gesture, I utter a silent prayer for His saving grace, that the person inside the vehicle may be spared from pain.
When I tried to lift my hand as the wailing of the siren blasted through my car window, I realized that I just couldn’t. Tears started flowing, the throbbing became unbearable, my spirit crashed. As I traversed the IT highway’s five kilometer stretch in pain, I came to the realization that I am lost not because I couldn’t use my hand, but because I couldn’t make the sign of the cross.

It’s carpal tunnel, the doctor diagnosed. My tendons were swollen and the tingling of the nerves caused by constant handling of the computer mouse has to be treated. I was advised rest for the next couple of days, which fortunately were weekends.

Two days of retrospection and the words of an old friend, who died a few years ago, kept ringing in my ears, “Why worry when you can Pray?” And as I prayed, healing began… and I could make the sign of the cross once again.