I learned about pendulums and motion at the age of three when the sharp, metal seat of a swing connected with the bridge of my nose. Every summer after that, once my face was sun-tanned, a thread-like, white scar re-appeared to remind me of that day by the swing set. By the time I started school, scars the size of quarters on each knee were proof that I had also developed a rudimentary grasp of gravity and friction the hard way.
In my teen years, I had a part-time job as a cook. It was the hardest job I ever had. I have the scars from sharp knives and deep fat fryers to prove it. A girl can learn a lot about what she doesn’t want to do for the rest of her life by dumping heavy pans of french fry oil into a sticky, rancid, barrel behind a restaurant. Yuck.
As a young mom, I tripped going down some steps from the garage into the house while carrying one of my toddlers. As I fell, and to avoid landing directly on my son, I somehow managed to twist in mid-air, and landed on my right elbow instead. There was a lot of blood. Thankfully, none of it was his.
The scars we collect throughout our lives offer a road map of the accidents and surgeries we’ve endured. They remind us of the things that happened that were beyond our control. The things that terrified us and brought us to our knees. Our maps are as individual as our fingerprints. They tell our story.
I was thinking about this recently as I was visiting with old friends after the memorial service for the husband of one of our other friends. We are all women nearing the age of sixty. Losing the people we love, and comforting friends who’ve lost theirs, is the hard and yucky part of growing older. That day, I was sporting a bandage on my wrist from my most recent refresher course in the laws of physics.
Some wounds heal quickly. Before too long, the one under the bandage will be replaced by a scar that looks like an almond. We hurt, and we heal. We are torn, and then we mend. It is far more complicated for our sweet, sad, friend. Her wounds are more complex and profound. For now, we are helpless to do much for her but gather, hug, eat egg salad sandwiches, and tell her she’s loved.
Fully aware, as we pray for her healing to begin, that the scar that’s forming will reside in her heart.