Scar Lines and The Kingdom of God

Scar Lines and The Kingdom of God

June 30, 2015

I’ve been staring at a new scar: a nearly straight line on top of my wrist. The holes from the sutures have mostly vanished, so what’s left now is a three-inch pink strip lying within a circle of fledgling arm hair, the echo of a surgery I had earlier this month.

The thing is, I really like the scar.

While the wrist is painful and puffy and stiff, the scar tissue, like a garden row or fault line, reminds me of the strange and beautiful movement of skin. It slides around, pulls together, regenerates—all without us noticing.

Nothing about my finding the human body remarkable is novel. I suspect that even my staring at the cause of my pain (and hopefully soon to be relief) isn’t that uncommon. There may be 731,345 people staring at scars across the world right in this very now. And yet I still find myself watching that line all the time, running my finger over it as if I’m trying to feel the healing in action.

The writer in me, of course, has to search for metaphorical potential in all of this. This new scar on my wrist must mean something. And I’m talking something more than a reminder that a doctor cut me open to remove a pesky bone fragment.

So I stare at my scar and think about figurative language (and Josh’s recent post). I remember Jesus’ parables: “The Kingdom of God is like, the Kingdom of God is like…” and I decide that the Kingdom of God is like my scar because, well, why not.

If nothing else, Jesus lets us know that we can’t fully understand the Kingdom of God. But we can have a sense of it. We can find images and ways of seeing slices of it.

One vision of the Kingdom of God that has stuck with me comes from the theologian NT Wright. In his book Simply Jesus, he talks about the Kingdom of God as something just behind the veil of this world—not as a far off place or something yet to come. He writes that we sometimes see glimpses of it when it shows through. In fact, he argues that the work of Christians is to reveal this Kingdom, to look for what is good and uncover it. To lift the veil. On earth as it is in heaven.

Something about that image of a sliding veil snapped into place for me. Not only for theological reasons (this comparison affirms the goodness of Creation and calls for us to find and maintain it), but also because I can see it. I know those moments when something eternal, something unbroken sneaks through the thin grittiness of this world—as if a gentle breeze wrinkles and lifts this seemingly sturdy world to expose a flash of all that is good and beautiful and forever.

And so I saw the Kingdom of God in my scar: a forever out-of-sorts patch of skin that rests atop miraculous, ever-moving processes. From here, the scar just looks wrong and hard and uncomfortable, a gash upsetting the otherwise seamless (albeit hairy) skin, but it hides the thousands upon thousands of years of evolution and creation, the buzzing and spinning of cells and blood and atoms. The invisible animation of a soul.

Or it’s possible that I just have a thing for scars.

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