Retaining Scars

“In the secular view, suffering is never seen as a meaningful part of life but only as an interruption.” ~ Tim Keller

A noticeable scar still protrudes above my left kneecap, although it is barely visible to the unknowing eye. I feel no pain from the wound because it healed over fifty years ago, but I remember the reason it is there–it signifies very little to others, but leaves an inescapable impression on me. Stated simply, I remember the reason for the wound. A seven-year-old cannot understand the intent underlying every parental injunction, and I was no exception to the rule. Mine warned me not to run down the narrow cement sidewalk bordered by a brick flower bed that led to our front door, especially when coastal humidity gathered on the concrete surface creating an ice-effect in the tropical climate. I refused to heed the warning, and instead turned it into a game when Mom and Dad were not looking. On one particularly balmy day, I failed to navigate the turn near the far end of the brick enclosure, jamming my knee into its jagged edge. The brick sliced deep, and the cut opened the shallow skin, exposing blood and tissue. Stitches would have helped, but we were not emergency room types. That was the last time I disobeyed my parents with regards to running on the sidewalk. Fifty years is a long time to heal, but I remember my misguided choice each time I bend and catch a glimpse of the unnaturally bunched skin on my knee. The pain is gone, but the warning remains. 

No one and no society can avoid scars. We are not perfect people and this is not a perfect world; to pretend that we are and that we were in the past is lunacy. It is not only unwise to attempt to rewrite history and remove all visages of past atrocity, it is dangerous. Scars serve a purpose; they teach by warning against replicating failure. There are things in my past I would love to forget, but choose to remember so as not to repeat them. I refuse to relinquish memory and forfeit the benefit of my wounds. Scars are defined as marks left on the skin or within body tissue where a wound, burn, or sore has not healed completely and fibrous connective tissue has developed, but they hold greater significance if they are blemishes from our past. It is not perfection, but healing that defines us. Cosmetic surgery could smooth the skin, but doing so would rob me of the benefit of wound.

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