I have a scar on the tip of my ring finger on my left hand where I once had an accident with a cotton gin. It was ugly. It happened so fast, severing my finger lengthwise. There was a lot of blood. Fortunately the nice doctor at the emergency room did a good job of stitching it back together. But it still looks rather mangled.
When I look at that lumpy, misshapen finger with the long scar running down I can remember EXACTLY what that day felt like – the day I got my hand caught in the machine. I remember the feeling of the sun on my face. I remember what I was wearing. I remember what I was doing. I remember the accident…
I have a scar on the upper part of my left thigh. This came from a burn that occurred when I was just a little child, so it’s nearly faded away now. You can barely see it. But I know right where it is. When I look at that scar I can well remember what happened.
I was toasting marshmallows in front of the fireplace with my brother. We had stuck our marshmallows on unbent coat hangers and were having a grand time cooking up those puffy gobs of sugar snot into hot gooey treats. I liked to get mine to the perfect stage of crisp golden brown all around. But my marshmallow dropped a bit too close to the glowing hot coals. It caught on fire, incinerating the sweet crust into blackness. I jerked it out quick to blow the fire out, foolishly hoping to salvage it. Instead, the whole flaming mess dripped off the wire and onto my leg. The burn was immediate and intense. Then, to make matters worse, I tried to rub it off me – spreading the hot mess like napalm. All that accomplished was causing more damage to my leg and burning my hand as well. It was excruciating.
If I didn’t have the scar I might have forgotten the experience. Yes, it was a big deal at the time. But it was over 40 years ago and over the course of ensuing years my life has certainly had bigger bumps to contend with since then. However, I do have the scar. So I remember.
I think of these things as I ponder the scars on hands and feet from being nailed to a cross in my name. As we move through Holy Week I’ve thought a lot about scars….