The Watchmaker

As a way of posting a first post that gets at what I’m after with the idea of “personalism,” I thought I’d post a short story by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom which he told in an interview at the beginning of his famous little book, Beginning to Pray.

In the hospital where I was working as a war surgeon, a German came in once with one finger smashed by a bullet. The head surgeon came round and looked at the finger and said “Take it off.” That was a very quick and easy decision–it would take only five minutes to do. Then the German said, “Is there anyone here who can speak German?” I spoke with the man and discovered that he was a watchmaker and if his finger was removed he would probably never be able to work again. So we spent five weeks treating his smashed finger and he was able to leave the hospital with five fingers instead of only four. From this I learnt that the fact that he was a watchmaker was as important as anything else. I would say that I learned to put human concerns first. Then one began to pray–a stabler prayer, standing before God, face to face, and simply being with God.

Anthony Bloom, Beginning to Pray, 13.