Friday, April 24, 2015

Spirituality: “Sacred Scars” By Margaret Silf

I put my hand in the over a few weeks ago and scorched myself on the heating element. In normal times this would have been just a careless mistake for which my skin paid the penalty. But the times were not normal. I was in a dark space, following the breakdown of a significant relationship, and so this accident became an incident, which, in hindsight, has taken on something of the power of a parable.

My close encounter with the grill left me, initially, quite oblivious of the pain that was to follow. As is so often the case in these matters, the pain of trauma is delayed. The initial shock of what has happened simply doesn’t sink in. There is a brief respite of stunned numbness before our minds and hearts must begin to deal with the fallout.

Needless to say, my hand soon registered its displeasure at being so undeservedly barbecued. For a while the wound screamed through my consciousness, allowing me to think of little else, yet refusing to allow itself to be touched with any kind of balm. The burn across my hand grew more livid each day and left me helpless either to help myself or accept anyone else’s help. My more personal trauma was behaving in much the same way: taking over every waking thought and every restless dream, yet, like a wounded animal, repelling any attempts at tender ministration.

Within a few days the pain began to subside. It was possible to touch the wound, and to apply soothing cream. I watched, not without a sense of wonder, how my body’s self-healing capabilities began to work. The angry redness faded to a more conciliatory dark pink. The pain became less insistent. The scorched skin gradually fell away, and I could see this miraculous process taking place before my eyes, as a new skin cover began to form. Everything that had been damaged and destroyed was being gently set aside, health was bring restored, and new tissue was being woven. The pain was still there, but it no longer dominated my mind. I was beginning to focus on the healing process instead, and even to cooperate with it.

The healing of an aching heart and devastated emotional life takes a lot longer than that; maybe it takes a lifetime. But my hand seemed to be telling me that healing is the real thing, and that Dame Julian of Norwich got it right when she said that “all shall be well.” My hand is teaching my heart to trust the mystery that is ceaselessly striving for our greater good.

Day by day my skin has knitted back together, and now all I have left to show for my destructive adventure is a slight scar. I’m actually hoping that the scar never fades completely, because it is something of an icon for me. It leads me through and beyond itself to the place where I meet the Healer. It will always remind me that whatever the trauma, the permanent reality in which I live and move and have my being is about wholeness, not harm.

Our scars are our reminders, not just that we have been hurt but, more important, that we have been healed.