My son moved into the upstairs of a house during his junior year at college. It’s an older house and bears the scars of residents past — gouges in the walls that have been plastered and painted, for example.
The most obvious scar was in the living room. Someone had rested a hot iron on the carpet, and it left an impression. The mark immediately grabs your attention when you enter the room.
My first reaction: What a shame! The pretty carpeting had a permanent scar. I wondered how it happened. Was it a thoughtless mistake? Did someone think a hot iron wouldn’t harm the carpet? Did they think the iron was cool enough to put on the floor safely?
The iron imprint is in a part of the room that makes it awkward to cover. A throw rug would look out of place. A piece of furniture would be impractical. So, there it is. You notice it right away.
In time, you start to look for it. And even appreciate it. The iron mark has its own story. I started to equate it with my son’s apartment, his next step in creating a life of his own. In that sense, a happy scar, no?
What about our scars?
When we see a scar, does it draw our attention? Do we wonder about the story behind it? And what about the scars that are inside of us and not readily visible — you know, the scars on our souls? The marks that we try to cover with the emotional equivalent of a rug or furniture? The ones we might occasionally show to someone who seems to appreciate scars?
We all get scarred by life. Sometimes, it’s from something careless, much like putting a hot iron on the carpet. Sometimes, we’re left with marks from hurtful comments and selfish actions. Disappointments can leave a mark. Life begins with a lasting mark — the naval spot by our stomach, the C-section incision that traces where a life fully entered the world.
Divine scars, for sure.
Or, consider Jesus. After he was executed, his followers eventually realized that he wasn’t dead and gone, but dead and still there. And how did they recognize him? By his scars. The marks that resulted from the way he lived, from his passion for love and justice and healing. He was upfront with his followers, telling them that when they lived the same way, they’d wind up with their own set of scars. His advice? Embrace them. Trace them with appreciative fingertips.
There’s no avoiding it: Life brings scars. They’re conceived in pain and formed in healing. And it matters how we look at them.
The last time I saw the iron mark on the carpet was the day I helped my son move out of his apartment after graduation. I glanced at it and, for the first time, realized it’s pretty in its own way. Instead of an eyesore, it was a work of art — unintentional art, but art nonetheless.
And it occurred to me: Instead of hiding our scars, maybe should we frame them, view them and admire them. Value them as the beautiful illustrations to the stories of our lives.
What do you think?
Some other thoughts about scars I found in books and various other sources, including Goodreads.com and BrainyQuote.com. Enjoy. And, as always, feel free to share your thoughts.
“Some people see scars, and it is the wounding they remember. To me, they are proof of the fact that there is healing.” — Linda Hogan
“Scars are an affirmation of living.” — Joshua Wisenbaker
“God will not look over you for medals, degrees or diplomas, but for scars.” — Elbert Hubbard
“Look at my hands and my feet. It really is me!” — Luke
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” — Khalil Gibran
“Show me your hands. Do they have scars from giving? Show me your feet. Are they wounded in service?” — Fulton J. Sheen
“Let our scars fall in love.” — Galway Kinnell
“A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.” — Leonard Cohen, “The Favorite Game”