Behind The Thumb

What does the thumbprint mean? 

Kent's actual thumbprint

As I was feverishly trying to complete my cottage by the sea on a cool January evening, I realized that 3 years of intense labor was quickly becoming a fulfilled dream. The completion of the outdoor kitchen would establish my seaside cottage as a true Caribbean residence; surrounded by tropical foliage, covered by a large tin roof, and framed with a panoramic view of St. John’s pristine mountains.


Eager to place the final piece of mahogany molding into position, I rushed down the steps to reach my table-saw under the cottage. Since I had used the saw in that position hundreds of times, I knew with exact precision where it was located and how it operated. Using the sparse rays of light coming down from the kitchen as a substitute for turning on the light under the cottage, I quickly turned on the saw. As the wood was passing through the blade, I slightly adjusted my footing and slipped off the rail-less deck, falling backward off the 6-foot high structure into the bush.

Before I fell, I tried to catch myself by extending my left hand toward anything solid. When I landed flat on my back, instant pain shot through my back and hand. When I stood to my feet and ran toward the light, I was horrified! My left thumb was gone! The palm of my hand was cut all the way through, halfway across. Blood was spewing like a broken dam with every beat of my heart. The sight of my maimed hand quickly drove me into a state of shock.

The saw cut my thumb from the tip down through the palm. Having two pieces of mangled skin and no bone; the surgical team presented me three options−cut away the mangled skin and have no thumb, transplant my big toe to my hand, or reconstruct some semblance of a thumb from bone in my hip.

Laying in a hospital bed trying to make sense of life without my left thumb and the decision to use a saw in the dark, I referenced a thought etched deep in my memory. Biblically, the thumb always represented defense; without it, the warrior was rendered defenseless since the thumb kept the sword secure. Before warriors were sent out to defend their nation, their thumbs were anointed for battle. When the enemy was captured, their thumbs were cut from their hands. No thumb meant no weapon. The thumb embodied might and order.

Since I’m left handed, I questioned, “Is my might and order being taken?” Although the thumb would be significantly flawed and deformed with a repulsive scar, it would be a visual symbol of pain, process, and restoration. I quickly chose the third option, cut bone from my hip and rebuild my thumb.

Since no one is exempt from decisions that go dreadfully awry, scars can represent two types of life; one is bound by scars of the past, the other overcomes pain through a process of healing and ultimately experiences the beauty of restoration. As for me, I chose the process of restoration. Choose your response to scars carefully, the decision could be greater than the moment; our decisions shape the generations that follow.

Five years later, a friend astutely suggested that I use my thumbprint as my branding logo. When ink was applied and the thumb pressed to paper, we all stood astonished by what we were seeing. The deformed thumb with a horrible scar was shaped like a heart! What once represented loss, stupidity, and haste, now represented strength, restoration, and love. Scars aren’t bars!”

Excerpt from Kent’s publication, Give LIFE, don’t Suck it up!



P.O. Box 49405, Athens, Ga 30604

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