by Joe Sewell
Just look at those scars. Yeah, this body has a few. Five small ones on the abdomen betray laparoscopic surgery for weight loss. Most people have huge scars from surgeries. My body doesn’t. Other than those, and one tiny scar at the base of my thumb from a slip-up that I took care of, for once, with peroxide, that’s it.
Well, that’s it in the physical body, at least.
From where I am, I can see other scars. They aren’t invisible, but they aren’t physical, either. These are scars of emotion, of anguish and pain many could not see, or chose not to see. To me, right now, they look worse than the physical scars. Instead of stretching across my body, I can perceive them violating my time. Some span decades instead of feet, or years instead of inches. Most people can’t see the scars themselves, only the side effects. They hide very well, until they get irritated. Then they get ugly!
Take that one scar down there, for example. That is the psychic gash of a frightened boy in the hospital, stuck in a “ward” with rows of beds. To me it appears soggy. That look comes from the high humidity I had to live in whenever winter’s chill dropped below 60°F. The “steam tent” kept me breathing. The scar eases up farther down my life, as that removal of tonsils with the adenoids allowed me some freedom. Its inferior ability to hold together, though, continues on in the years. It prevented me from being physically active like my “friends.” I never fit in, as the farming & fishing community into which I was born didn’t care much for knowledge, or for fat kids.
That scar showing “next” to it came from the time my step-grandmother picked me up from elementary school. She told me my father had fallen and hurt himself, and was at the hospital. Since the hospital was 20 miles away, nobody in our community went there except in an ambulance, which meant this had to be life or death. My mother arrived well after my normal bedtime to pick me up and take me home from Grandmom’s and Grandpop’s home. That scar runs long and deep, too, even though Pop just knocked his kneecap into his thigh. His inability to move around became Hell for Mom and me, because Pop did not tolerate “laziness.” Laziness meant not stinking of sweat all the time.
Then there are the scars that aren’t healed. Underneath those emotional slices are septic wounds just waiting to be reopened. I have always been able to discern them, but they’re so obvious now. I even see old wounds that had healed, or at least I thought they had, until they were reopened again. Then, like the infections they are, they go wild all over again.
I can see all those scars so clearly now. Why can’t anyone else see them? Perhaps they are too blinded by their own scars. I can see the people around me, and I have a hint of some of the scars they wear. Scars of failures, scars of success, scars that hinder, and scars that help all show up. I don’t know the stories the scars tell, but I can see them at work right now.
I see those scars as they work over my body. They note one new wound, not yet a scar. A bullet tore through my skull. Though there isn’t much hope, they continue to attempt to restart my heart as I watch here, above the table. The heart monitor has blared its whine of hopelessness for too long. I watch the doctor sign off on the death certificate. “Cause of death: suicide.”
Then I sense someone else next to me. I feel a hand on my shoulder. I turn, and I see him. He’s a Jew, wearing a white garment that could be called a robe, but I can see something through it. I see his own scars. I see the holes in his hands. I see the gash of a spear in his side. I can even see the scars that became his back, torn to shreds through scourges and cat-o-nine-tails. I can also see his heart, which had exploded in agony when he died. That scar somehow runs through every portion of his being, from physical to emotional to spiritual.
I see Jesus, and He wants me to come with Him. There’s no condemnation for the stories of my scars. After all, He tells me, His own scars were made to cover mine, when I allowed it.
That, though, is a story often told and well known, and refused many times.