from wounds to scars

scars are fascinating

the summer before i went off to college, i had an emergency surgery– a right colectomy because i had cecal diverticulitis. i spent a week in providence hospital. (a bit of trivia for you seattle natives: it was the during the first weekend of radio station kube so they played music non-stop commercial free. i did not change the dial– kube and i have a strong bond!) i am forever thankful to the doctors and nurses who helped me through that operation!

the bottom line: i have a seven inch vertical abdominal scar from that operation. at first, the cut was held together by a series of staples and bandages. after leaving the hospital, i had to walk quite slowly. but there was life to be lived! my friends and i talked my parents into letting me go to the seattle seafair races and the next weekend, attend our st paul’s youth minister’s wedding in the portland area. both of which had their unexpected challenges for me because of the operation! it was tender for a couple of months.

in time, the wound healed well. at first, i was a bit embarrassed if i had to take my shirt off and someone might see my scar. but it became a conversation starter on those rare occasions. the scar came to represent part of my story and i just accepted it from then on. rarely, would i think about that scar over time.

perhaps because of my own experience, whenever i see people with scars, i am drawn to them. usually, they are folks who had a knee operation. at times, i would even ask people i do not know to tell me the story of how they got the scar. scar tissue is amazing. it is stronger than regular skin. to me, scars are a reminder of a physical difficulty that had been healed; the person’s skin is stronger because of it. scars can be meaningful symbols of our personal life journey.

we use this symbol in other areas of our lives too: emotional scars, psychological scars, relational scars, spiritual scars. are we always stronger in our lives because of these scars that are part of our story?


if we are (mostly) healed from the hurt, i think that scars can be allies in our life story . but many times, our wound can fester. wounds need bandages and time to stop the bleeding. sometimes, even if we have we have the bandage on, we take it off and pick at the wound– and the bleeding resumes although not as badly as before.

how can our hurts be healed so that they turn into scars? how can we become stronger than before the hurt so that the scar serves as a symbol of a significant life experience?

i don’t know the answer to those questions, but i do know of this framework of scarring helps me understand it all better. we need people who will help us through the hurt– like doctors and nurses. we need something to stop the immediate hurt– like stitches and bandages. and we need time and ongoing care of the wound.

currently, this covid pandemic is negatively affecting the world. many places in the world are screaming out for bandages while we in the “developed world” are fatigued by physical distancing. there are some who still refuse to cover their face with a piece of cloth as a sign of being independent and exercising freedom. there are places where digging mass graves is the response. because of limited resources, there are places where our elderly brothers and sisters will be last on the list of people to help.

the effects of covid coupled with our responses — or lack thereof–are scarring us all. we will live in a different world because of it.

in christian terms: we are passing through the cross of suffering and death of good friday. we await, hope and long for the power of resurrection on easter sunday. the bleeding from the wounds on the Body of Christ are fresh and new because of a worldwide virus.

as always, the grace of God will help us pass through the crosses of this pandemic. there is no easter sunday without good friday. God’s strength, wisdom and courage help us in our weakness.

let us pray:

Most Merciful and Triune God,
We come to You in our weakness.
We come to You in our fear.
We come to You with trust.
For You alone are our hope.

We place before You the disease present in our world.
We turn to You in our time of need.

Bring wisdom to doctors.
Give understanding to scientists.
Endow caregivers with compassion and generosity.
Bring healing to those who are ill.
Protect those who are most at risk.
Give comfort to those who have lost a loved one.
Welcome those who have died into Your Eternal Home.

Stabilize our communities.
Unite us in our compassion.
Remove all fear from our hearts.
Fill us with confidence in Your care.

(mention your particular concerns and prayers now)

Jesus, I trust in You.
Jesus, I trust in You.
Jesus, I trust in You. Amen

prayer from:

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