Sunday, February 13, 2011

"With this ring, I thee pierce."

“Nothing to confess, but I’ve got scars deeper than your mind.” – Chagall Guevara, “I Need Somebody.”

I was recently cleaning out my junk drawer (for once, I mean that literally and not metaphorically), and I began to make note of – and laugh at – the bizarre assortment of trinkets that I keep in there: the odd battery which may or may not work any more; a random nail or screw; old ticket stubs; buttons; and the like. Eventually, my eye caught glimpse of a small metallic box nestled in one corner of the drawer. Once I picked it up and rattled it, I remembered that the box actually holds a few assorted pieces of jewelry that I own, such as my high school class ring, a couple of cufflinks, and my earrings.

Yes. Earrings.

The year was 1989. I was a freshman in college. It was the proto-grunge era. Don’t hate.

Anyway, once I opened the box and saw the hoops and studs in there, I decided to be brave and say what the heck – let’s see if the hole in my ear has closed or not. Now, keep in mind that earlier in my former professional life, when I worked as a hall director or admissions counselor, it was much easier to swing the ring as a fashion accessory – partially because I was younger and had hair. When I began working as a college administrator, I gave up the notion of wearing an earring, as it was difficult to find ones that went with the ties I would wear.

The last time I wore an earring on a day-to-day basis? Somewhere around 2002 or 2003. In fact, the last time I even put an earring in my ear for any measurable amount of time was the first year that the youth group I worked with back in Athens, GA had their annual Halloween event. That would have been October of 2005.

So, holding my breath and mentally preparing for the inevitable mantra of “ow ow ow ow ow ow” to begin, I began to insert the earring into my ear.

But much to my shock – it went through. Completely. In one try. With no effort required to try and push it through the back of my ear, which I had supposed was closed up.

The hole was still there. And open.


This of course got me to thinking about the how and why of this decades-old physical demarcation of a youthful indiscretion might still be there. I hadn’t worn an earring for ages, so how could my ear still have a working piercing?

After I took the earring out, my ear began to itch like crazy. I remembered that I probably needed to clean the darn thing out before it got infected, so I headed into the bathroom to grab some rubbing alcohol and peroxide. Once I was in the small space that passes for our bathroom, this…smell…hit me. An amazingly putrid, but not overpowering, horrible stench was coming from my ear.

…because I had apparently reopened an old wound.

And then it hit me: my body remembers its scars.

With some effort, if I wanted to, I could probably remember the curses I muttered under my breath as the stud was first shot into my earlobe. With some effort, if I wanted to, I could probably remember the sensation of the metallic cabinet drawer as it sliced through my left elbow, leaving a permanent sign of its passing behind. With some effort, if I wanted to, I could probably remember what it felt like when – at age 25 – I contracted chicken pox for the first time, and felt my entire face become covered with scabs, which mercifully only left behind three obvious scars after they fell off.

I could choose to remember the pain, if I wanted to.

But every time that I wear a short-sleeved shirt and see my elbow, every time that I look in a mirror and see those small pock marks on my head, and every time I rub my forefinger and thumb against my earlobe where the earring used to sit – my body shows me. It shows me that it remembers what I went through.

My body – my flesh – does not want me to forget.

My soul – strengthened by the Spirit – does not want me to remember.

This may not exactly be what Paul meant when he said that our body and mind are at war with one another in Galatians 5:17 (The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.), but it seems to me that there is an interesting parallel there.

This may not exactly by what the writer of Hebrews had in mind when he wrote in Hebrews 8:12 “…and I (Christ) will never again remember their sins,” but there is an air of similarity to it.

My body – my flesh – does not want me to forget.

My soul – strengthened by the Spirit – does not want me to remember.

Maybe it’s time to purge yet some more of both the literal and the metaphorical junk in my drawers, heart, and mind.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

great visual, Sonny! i know my heart and mind have scars that run deep. I have marks to remind me of hard, but healing times. the smallest healing is that... a healing - a miracle in me.