There is a landscape to our human experience
Delivered September 2014 at the Anatomical Donors Memorial Service.
There is a landscape to our human experience. It is a continent full of peaks and valleys, deserts and oases, with long stretches of the familiar and many areas yet to know. Every person’s life is an exploration of this terrain. And every person’s body is the vessel that brings them ashore. From the moment our newly born fingers reach out in front of us, we join in a long, unbroken tradition of shaping this landscape.
It is our bodies that make this all possible. They are the homes we in which we live and the tools on which we rely. From eyes that have peered to the horizon and noses that have run in many a Michigan winter, we have come to know them – to know ourselves and to know our world – intimately. In a very real sense, they are the most personal and interpersonal things we have. We have hands that have sealed partnerships, arms that have embraced friends, hearts that have panged with grief and swollen with love. We have lungs that have given us voice, stomachs that have enjoyed our meals, and bladders that never fail to remind us just how finite we really are. Though our legs may know fatigue and perhaps only our feet will know just how long the hours of a day feel, they have carried us far and wide across the landscape, stumbling at times, advancing all the while. We have gotten to where we are with and through and because of our bodies.
But we have not done it alone. Not at all. We have had the hands of others keeping us steady, we have been embraced by the arms of others when we needed it most, and we have had people – beautiful, honest, wonderful people – who have swelled our hearts and welled our eyes with tears. Friends and families, neighbors and coworkers, the people sitting right next to us and the people standing on the other side of the globe – all of us – are part of this. And with the help of the people who have brought us here today, together we will explore more of this vast landscape than we ever could alone.
Our bodies are our most intimate possessions, ours to care for and ours to share with whomever we want. I am grateful now and for as long as I can ever be that your loved ones have chosen to share this gift with us. And if I should only be given this one chance to ever say it to them and to those they cared about most: thank you. Thank you. Thank you.