When Your Scars Leak (Warning: Graphic Image of a Cat’s Infected, Although Missing, Eye)

Yesterday, my daughter cries out that Jack’s scar is leaking

Remember Jack?  Our one-eyed cat, over this past year, seemed fully recovered from the day we rescued him:  he learned to purr again; he discovered his lost meow; he started caring for other cats; then he learned to stand up for himself against the other cats; and finally, he learned how to knead the bed like normal kitties do.

He was fully alive, fully cat

We hardly notice the scar anymore.  It’s only when other folks come over and comment that we remember.

Infected Eye Wound

But the wound where his eye once was becomes infected.  The vet says the infection is so great, so deep, that it has to burst out of the scar. 

We hold Jack all evening.  We care for the infection, treat it with medicine, and give special attention to him. 

I remember that sometimes wounds leak.  Even after a year of healing, the old scar can ooze.  Just because we don’t notice the wound, one day, it bursts back into our lives and threatens us with that discouraging reminder.

But we aren’t discouraged.  We go back to the basics.  We hold him, love him, and treat him.  We aren’t shocked or repulsed.  It’s part of his journey, and we’re right here with him. 

Living with flair means I’m in this with you.  Even when the old wounds leak out, we go back to the basics, take care of one another, and let the healing begin again. 

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Journey:  When old wounds leak, how can I keep from being discouraged?

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Going to the Bottom of the Well

Just this week, a dear friend of mine describes herself as  “holding on to the edge for dear life so she doesn’t fall to the bottom of the well.”

You grip the well’s ledge, keep your chin up, and refuse to fall. 

It’s a haunting image of a life lived in fear of surrender.  My tight grip on the ledge represents a picture of what I cannot face on the road to personal transformation, freedom, and joy.   I’m afraid of what’s down there if I journey deeper into places of brokenness.  Can’t I just stay up here, white knuckled, with my jaw clenched, fighting? 

All day, I consider how I need to let go of my tight grip on my life, trying to hold everything together in that desperate and clenched way that drains out the life and hope. 

A friend looks her straight between the eyes and says, “You need to let go and fall to the bottom of the well.”  That’s the way to begin to heal. 

But what happens when she lets go?  What fearful thing awaits?  She cannot do this alone. 

Another friend says, “I’ll fall to the bottom with you.”

And another, days later, adds:  “God is at the bottom of the well.” 

We release our grip, surrender to the work of healing God wants in our lives, and look around.  We aren’t alone:  Friends journey down into the darkness with us, and God himself embraces us at the moment we let go. 

(Photograph of a well in Argentina, Creative Commons)

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Journal:

Today, I remember a quote from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke:  “Works of art always spring from those who have faced the danger, gone to the very end of an experience, to the point beyond which no human being can go. The further one dares to go, the more decent, the more personal, the more unique a life becomes.”  
What danger do I need to face? 
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How to Be Sick with Flair

All night long, a fever rages, and I can’t keep warm no matter what I do.  I’m coughing so much that I actually lose my voice.  I can’t talk on the phone; I can’t boss my family around; I can’t even go to church and call out my welcomes. 

I try to get out of bed while everyone else is at church, but then I flop back down on the pillow.  I have no energy.  I’m suddenly amazed by how the body takes the energy it needs to get better and forces you to conserve it.  You stay in bed.  You don’t move.

I can’t stand the lack of productivity.  I actually devise a grand plan with my lost voice.  I can make a vow of silence and pray all day.  How godly!  But when I try to get my Bible and journal, I flop back down on the pillow once more.  Forget it.  I’m too weak.  

I’m worried about how in the world my husband got everybody ready for church and who handled all my responsibilities there.  And I’m worried about who’s cooking dinner. 

My family returns from church, and the girls bound into my room like little gazelles leaping about the bed.  Their outfits are adorable, and my husband has actually fixed their hair.  The youngest has the smoothest pony-tail , and their faces are clean and bright.   I can’t stop looking at that pony-tail.  For years my husband has announced, “I don’t do hair.  I’ll do everything else, but I can’t do hair.”

But he did it. I look again at that hair and realize how God provides, even down to the pony-tail.  And then a friend sends the message that she’s bringing hot soup.   I turn over in my blanket and realize my God-given assignment.  Stay in bed.  Don’t move.  

There’s nothing I can do, so, for once, I learn how to let God provide.

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5 Blisters

I count 5 blisters on my hands.

I touch each one.  A blister is the fluid that collects to protect the skin underneath from damage.  With that bubble of liquid in place, the layer below stays safe and can heal from whatever assaults it.  The blister is the skin’s defense mechanism.

These particular blisters arise out of an afternoon of raking leaves and building leaf houses with my daughters.  We map out rooms to our imaginary homes and pile up leaves for walls.   In our minds, the architecture rises up, brick by brick, and materializes over our heads.  An imaginary fire roars in the fireplace.  An apple pie bakes in the leaf oven.

It isn’t until I come inside to grade papers that I realize the damage to my hands.  These blisters are perfect protection from what I didn’t even perceive was wrong.

I didn’t tell my body to do that.  I didn’t even know it was happening.  What an intricate design the body is that it protects and repairs without our permission, without our even knowing!  So while I’m off imagining a life in leaves, something makes that layer I need to live outside of imagination.  It’s protects me when I don’t perceive harm.

Blisters remind me of God’s loving protection–the kind I don’t invite or often value, placed right in my hands so I can heal.  

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The Best Definition of Courage

My daughter and I were talking about taking her training wheels off and learning to ride a bike.  She became very quiet and said, “You know, Mom, little hills mean little boo-boos.  And big hills mean big boo-boos.”

I said, “So I guess you want to avoid the big hills on your bike.” 

She paused and said, “Oh, no.  It just means we need a bigger first aid kit.”

There you have it:  Courage means I ride full speed ahead, anticipate the wounds, and prepare with a great first aid kit.  For my daughter it means Hello Kitty band aids.  For the rest of us, it might mean we fill our kits with authentic friendships, strong ties to a community, a vibrant relationship to God, and the kind of space to heal.  It’s not the height of the hill that matters.  It’s not the danger, the risk, or the potential for failure.  Wounds are likely.   So I build the best first aid kit I can.  That’s some 5 year old flair.

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