My friend and former student, Nathan, has always challenged me to think. With my entry into "blogdom," he continues to do that as I now regularly read his "speciallimitededition." Many times he just makes me laugh with such comments as "I'm gonna polka my eyes out" (all we who have worn contacts have been there). But the blog that has been haunting me of late is one he wrote a couple of weeks ago equating his own spiritual struggle with the novel by Alex Gardner entitled The Beach (I heartily recommend a link and a read). He quotes the end of the book where the main character says:
As for me, I’m fine. I have bad dreams…I play video games, I smoke a little dope.
I got my thousand-yard stare. I carry a lot of scars.
I like the way that sounds.
I carry a lot of scars.
I haven't been able to shake those lines . . . or Nathan's analogy to his own life. After ruminating about it for days, I finally realized it is because it struck a rather familiar chord.
I suspect we all carry a lot of scars - the difference is that some people are more willing to examine theirs than others. Nathan questions some of his scarring experiences as moments when he and the community with whom he identified became less than Christlike. What little insight I have to offer is that it is the inability of members in his fellow community to recognize their scars who exhibited less than a Christlike image.
Having been through a few more of those "scarring" and questioning life moments, I have felt the futility that Nathan has felt, but tempering it with age and experience, I have come to view these times (and scars) as passages for growth, rather than evidence of some sort of failure. It is the self-aware internal auditor that begins to view those scars as the heiroglyphics which mark the progress of one's personal journey. Some of these "passages" are longer and more tedious - even depressing - than others. But the caveat is that in ignoring scars, I fear we seek a moral certainty that is far more damaging. At the other end of each passage I have found myself stronger, more accepting, more certain of God's love, and less certain that there is only one way to experience that love. Do I seek to be more Christlike? Absolutely. And I seem to recall that Jesus became frustrated with members of his "community," that he had to spend some time in the "wilderness," and that ultimately, he carried a lot of scars. A lot of scars.