Friday, November 6, 2009

Scabs and Scars

When I was in the second grade, I fell out of our climbing tree in the backyard. I don't remember what happened -- I think I just lost hold -- but I remember falling out of the tree backwards, landing flat on my back and the breath knocked out of me.

On the way down, a broken bit of branch tore a good long scratch in my right upper arm. It was the only wound from that fall.

What I also remember is the scab on that scratch. The scratch was long and thin, on my inner arm. It scabbed over hard and tight. And I remember sitting in class, in second grade, and every time I raised my hand to answer a question, the scab would pop apart a little. And it would hurt. I remember that even more clearly than getting the breath knocked out of me.

I was thinking about that today, driving the short hour home from spiritual direction, being literally knocked about by the windy day after an extended session of being spiritually knocked about -- not by my director, mind you, but by my own pain, and my own desperate struggle to hope.

My life right now is like that scab. Only bigger. That scab covers a two-year old wound and the months of continued wounding afterwards. It's a wound to the body, the soul, the spirit. It's a loss of trust, of belief, of innocence. It's layers of wounds over which is a hard, tight scab which I'm sure served a purpose for a time but is no longer much serving me. Because the only thing left outside is anger. And unbelief.

And I don't talk about it much. At all.

Every time, though, I raise my hand to speak of justice, of hope, of life, that scab pops apart a little. And it's terrifying. You'd think it would be nice, you know, a sign of healing, but it just hurts. What's underneath is tender tender tender and doesn't really want to be hurt again. And I resist that, and it's exhausting.

But on the other hand. When the scab begins to crack, the air can get in. And that tenderness can get out. And I need that. I need that. I am not this anger and unbelief that is left.

Today the scab cracked in a big way. Oh, it hurt. A lot. I'm exhausted. But feel a glimmer of hope (a little goat therapy this afternoon, including head rubs from Arlo, helped).

In second grade, eventually, the scab came off, bit by bit. I still have a scar on my arm from that fall, but the wound healed and stopped hurting. I like to look at that scar and remember that it is proof that in my life I have climbed trees without fear.

This wound will leave a scar as well. I wonder what I will think of it then.


  1. I'm finding this incredibly moving, and your scar analogy made me think immediately of one on my knee, which made it painful to kneel in church for a while as a young teenager and reminded me each time of the humiliation of getting the scar. (I'd tried to jump over a low tennis net as I'd seen some of the athletic girls do. Big mistake!)

    I'm glad your tenderness is not trapped deep down, unable to get out.


  2. Oh, beautiful, beautiful pastor pastor and friend. I know, I think...I know the terror of that sort of vulnerability and the terror of searching for healing when you fear being hurt and betrayed all over again. I love you for your strength AND your vulnerability. You are NOT the anger and the unbelief, but that anger and unbelief, I believe, come from a beautiful part of you just seeking to be heard and seen and known and healed. And I believe you will know healing and peace and belief again.

    Want to get coffee and talk some time? I'd love to give you a really big hug and tell you in very specific detail everything I think you have done SO well and SO faithfully even in this last month as you have struggled.

    Love to you...

  3. towanda - i remember reading the story of your "two year old wound" and being deeply touched then. the analogy you write of here is so apt and once again i am moved by your sharing. healing grief is like picking at a scab in so many ways. may healing blessings continue to surround you.


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