Tuesday, November 1, 2011


One news clip that caught my attention the other day was the revelation that the Duchess of Cambridge has a scar on her head. There was a picture of her at a charity event she was hosting in place of her father-in-law, and she looked very royal and very competent. She looked lovely but, try as I might, I couldn't see the scar. I thought about it all day and finally, that evening, I found a picture that seemed to show a scar just inside her hairline .  That was the scar there was so much hoop-la over?  It was barely noticeable, and, I'm sure, she didn't care that it showed a bit. After all, she's lived with it all these years, William has undoubtedly known about it for some years, and it doesn't seem to matter a hill of beans to them, so why should the rest of the world care so much? 

Scars most usually evoke notice, if not comment. If we encounter someone with a visible scar, I'd venture to say most of us would take a quick look and then look away as if we had never seen anything at all. If the scar is severe, it's hard not to look away. How hard it must be for someone with visible scars to know that people are pretending not to notice or are staring outright. I've got several -- chicken pox, a scar from a removed hemangioma and now I'm cookin' up a good one after surgery for skin cancer. I'm not in the public eye, and it's a good thing or I'd probably have to buy stock in Mederma®.

I'm wondering if the Duchess' scar is going to continue to make waves -- or attempts to find out what precisely caused the scar. Is it going to be like other people we've put up on pedestals only to find their feet are made of clay or something in their past has left something visible behind?  Then I think about people who have scars but which are internal scars, hidden from view but impacting their lives as surely as if it were the largest scar in the world. Kids who have been bullied certainly have them, as do soldiers coming back from a war zone or hazardous duty. Battered women have them (as well as exterior ones quite often) and people who have suffered discrimination and harassment because of their race, ethnicity, religion, social status or any one of a hundred "qualifiers" that we use to separate "them" from "us." That we ourselves have scars makes us want to point the fingers at someone else's before they notice ours, and it's as old as Cain and Abel.

There's no perfect person. I bet if we could check Jesus' knees, there'd be scars from a few childhood accidents, or perhaps a scar or two from learning to use the tools Joseph taught him to use, not to mention that one from the village mohel. Granted that was a deliberate thing, prescribed by God, and so a bit different than skinned knees or chicken pox scars. Still, a scar is a scar --

Some scars are beyond curing; the best that person can hope for is healing from the event that caused the marks, a healing that allows them to be at peace with who they are, priceless children of God whose worth is measured by not their outward appearance but their inward strength and grace. Some of the invisible scars may also be incurable, and perhaps healing might never take place. Prayer may not be answered immediately, but who knows, God may be waiting for just that one particular prayer, and it certainly won't hurt us any to spend a moment or two. Besides, perhaps the prayer helps the healing of the one for whom we are praying and helps us as well?  Can we turn our backs on that possibility?

Sometimes we have to embrace the scar, acknowledging the fact that in some way we were damaged and different than we were before. Still, we can learn from it, even if the lesson is bitter. Jesus acquired some wounds that stayed with him, but because of them, the whole world changed.

It may sound awful, but I'm glad the Duchess has a scar, not because it represents something traumatic that happened in her past, or because it is something that mars her beauty, but because she is confident enough in herself that she can carry that scar as part of her but not her identification. Perhaps that would be lesson enough for us to contemplate, but we could learn more.

Jesus had wounds. He probably also had scars from living as a human being. He didn't identify himself as a scarred person but rather as a nurturer, a teacher, and as one God had sent to guide and ultimately redeem the world. Through his scars, we are all healed.

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