We all have them.
They remind us of pain from some event in our lives, whether an accident, a battle, a lesson learned, or a love lost.
What am I talking about? Well, scars.
I own one near my right eye. I’ve had it since the day I fell off a lawn tractor at the Kingsport Sears, Roebuck, and Co., Garden Center when Sears was out on Eastman Road (in the building where the Post Office is now). I was only about three or four, so I can’t remember much about it, but it slowed my exploring side down for a while as I realized that some things cause pain. So the scar continues to teach me that lesson.
My sister had a scar on her knee for years. I haven’t inspected her in a while, so I don’t know if in her fifties she still has it or not, but was caused from running into the corner of a coffee table, I think. At least that’s the memory I have. But it’s her scar, so maybe you should check with her to be sure.
In the region where I live there are many scars. The land is scarred by road-building, coal-mining, and other pursuits. Even though reclamation has smoothed some of the scars, others remain, grandfathered in by policies of the past. One particular place on the Nickelsville Highway between that little hamlet and the Dickensonville Community, one can trace the roadbeds of three different roads. The first was the pioneer era road, the Fincastle Turnpike, which led many pioneers to the Kentucky line. The next was the first macadamized road that replaced it, further down the hill, and the final one is today’s paved and striped two-lane route, designed for automobiles. The scars on that hill spell out the story of the history of the region.
In Israel, there is a Holocaust museum called Yad Vashem, which means “a name,” and is derived from Isaiah: “Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name (yad vashem) better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off” Isaiah 56: 5. It is a memorial that strives to keep a place where the names are not blotted out of those who died in the German purging of Hebrew people. The final room in the museum is dedicated to the children who died. It is dark, and has light that reminds you of the night time stars on the ceiling. It calls to mind the promise of God to Abraham that his descendants would be like the stars, so many you can’t count them. Then as you depart through the exit, you look out towards Bethlehem and there in the distance is the tomb of Rachel. Bible scholars know that Rachel designates that name of the woman who lost her children and cried with such depth that she could not be comforted. The scripture is quoted in Matthew at the occasion of King Herod’s purging of the Bethlehem boys under age two, who he had killed in order to keep the new king from living, the king the Magi told him about, the king many of us know as Jesus.
We return oftentimes to the places of pain. Healing happens as we remember and look back. It takes returning and remembering in order to release the painful memories and in turn step into the future as stronger people. Our past and our pain can be healed. Scars are reminders along the journey.