One day as a child, I was riding my brother’s bicycle, feeling invincible and free and playful. I started zig-zagging in the street, seeing how fast I could go, turning the handlebars back-and-forth quickly, too quickly … and I ended up crashing on the pavement, chin first.
Aside from being chastised by my mother—the consequences of my behavior were predictable, after all—I remember the matter-of-fact way that my parents tended to me. They called Mrs. Anderson, our neighbor who was also a nurse, and she came over immediately to evaluate my wounded chin. She determined that I didn’t need stitches and instead just put a butterfly bandage on me right there in the comfort of our family room.
I am rather fond of the resulting scar on the underside of my chin. Some might describe it as an imperfection. But when I notice it, I’m reminded of how it came to be part of my body. I’m reminded of a carefree time, and childhood play, and the love of caregivers, even when they really wanted to discipline me for careless behavior. I guess they figured the physical injury was punishment enough.
For some reason, this story has been present in my mind these past couple weeks. Maybe simply because it’s bicycle season and we took our family’s first summer ride together recently.
Or maybe it’s because I’m feeling reflective about figurative wounds and scars, and how at the time of injury—wounds raw and exposed—it sometimes seems a wonder that we could ever get through the pain, healthy and whole. We are not, after all, invincible.
And yet, usually we do get through the pain. With love and care and time—and sometimes a little chastisement from loving caregivers—we heal.
And our scars tell stories. They tell stories of injury, but also stories of healing.
This summer, I wish for you days of carefree playfulness. And if you fall down, may you trust that there will be loving and competent care, ready and willing to help you heal.
P.S. I’ll see you again at the end of August. In the meantime, remember that both Rev. Louise Green (email@example.com) and the Karuna caregiving team (firstname.lastname@example.org) are available for your pastoral needs.
Paige, I loved this story! I have a similar scar on the underside of my chin, as a result of an injury sustained more than 40 years ago. I was ice skating on a pond with some friends (this was in the days when Maryland actually had winter weather) and was showing off my backwards-skating chops. It turns out I was not as good a skater as I thought I was and my feet slipped out behind me causing me to land chin first on the ice. Due to the cold I didn’t realize I had split open my chin until I started seeing blood. We returned to my friend’s home and his father promptly took control of the injury and drove me to hospital, where I did get a few stitches. Now every time I become aware of that scar I think of that beautiful cold winter day, spending time with my friends, and the subsequent concern and kindness of my friend’s father. Without the scar it is likely that the memory would have long subsided into the haze of ancient experiences.
Maybe someday we will have a chance to compare chin scars and compare memories!
I hope that you and your family have a wonderful, restful, and peaceful summer.