Saturday, May 31, 2008

Battle Scars

When I was in High School, our church choir was on tour in St. Louis. During the time we visited the riverfront, a downpour occurred and forced us to wait it out in the back of an RV in our shorts and T-shirts. To pass the time we wound up pointing out all of our scars and telling everyone how we got them. I don't know what it is about scars, but they seem to be something that most people enjoy sharing. One would think that this is a particular "Boy" thing, but the girls were equally pointing out their scars and telling everybody how they got them, no matter how gruesome the story.

There seems to be a leveling quality to scars in that if you know that someone else has a scar– this makes them more human. The willingness of pointing out ones imperfections shows a humbleness and proves that we are all fallible. Physical scars are easy in that you can easily point to something that you see, emotional scars are a different matter completely. You can't just say "Here; look at this depression, isn't it interesting…" then proceed to tell them how you got in such a funk. But that is always true about any intangible.

Even the tangible physical scars can have an interesting symbolism about them. There are several scars that I have found that I have to ask myself "now, how did I get that one…" then rack my brain and try and figure out how I got injured. Others I know I got, but have a tough time trying to find: such as the laceration on my left forearm– the only place I ever got stitches.

I was working at Knaack Manufacturing helping form job boxes. I was assisting the break-press operator with lifting the box top while it was being bent. I must have dropped my arms at some point, because I did not notice that I was cut until I started to lift the next piece, and saw the blood dripping down my arm. I am sure that if this were any other cut, I would not have to have stitches. But, since I was working with metal, it was required. For the longest time, I kept thinking that it was my right arm that was injured, since that was the arm closest to the piece. Interestingly, it was not the arm closest to the piece, but the other one– which probably explains why I could not find it on my right arm.

Much like the tree in the forest; if a scar cannot be seen– did the injury ever occur? I sure hope not because there are some injuries that I felt a scar should be visible, but went away. But, even though there is not visible scar, the story still remains. Like the time that I was playing baseball in a neighbors back yard in my bare feet and overran first base only to slip on a plastic drain pipe and cut my foot from the base of the big toe up through the heel. A great looking cut, but it actually went away in about 3 weeks (probably because most of the cut was through the callous skin). Perhaps this is also true of emotional scars that may seem to not be apparent, but the event that caused the injury still occurred.

The best scars are those that when you look at, you either guess wrong, or can't figure out how such a scar was formed. I'll forgive you if you stare at my forehead and try to figure out how I got the scar that looks like someone shoved their fingernail into my scull.

It is our scars– as well as our experiences that cause them that define our being. Having a scar allows us to reflect on our experiences and know that we are able to recover from our injuries and tell the tale.

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