I went to the nail salon last week. It was a rare occurrence for sure, but, after the week I had, I declared it a necessity. (I’m still working on the whole “die to self” and “embrace your cross” aspect of my faith journey). *grin*
Sipping my glass of cheap wine, I extended my right arm so that the talented nail artist could work her magic on my horridly chipped and uneven fingernails. And that’s when I had to chuckle. There, just on the outside of the knuckle on my right pinky finger, was a very distinct black smudge from a dry erase marker. I’m a teacher, and for some strange reason, I tend to rest that part of my pinky on the whiteboard as I scrawl out my genius for the students to copy down. I have always done this, and all throughout the school year, the black smudge remains, some days more prominently than others. In fact, only after a long, hot summer spent relaxing poolside (as much as possible for a busy mom of six) does the offending mark begin to wane. Yet it never fails that, after the first day of school, the mark reappears, like an old friend – a familiar, welcome sight that hails the start of the academic year.
I started to think about the other marks I have acquired throughout my life. The most obvious one laying at the base of my abdomen, the result of cesarean sections that gave life to four of my six children and saved my own life at least twice. This is an excruciating mark, not one to be taken lightly, and, even though I dreaded each surgery, I will be forever grateful for the life that came forth abundantly through it. Other, less dramatic instances would include the wrinkles that come with age, or the scars of an active childhood, and even more recently, the forays into the worlds of exercise, dancing, and hiking. (Lots of bumps and bruises there!) All these marks are indicative of a need to preserve vitality and enjoy the life that God has blessed me with.
Christ himself, covered with marks, poured out his life for us on the cross. Beaten and wounded beyond recognition, his marks of love pour grace and life into our very souls. Without his marks, we would not be made whole. There would be no life, only death.
And so it is with us. The C-section scars literally brought new life into the world, but even my silly black-marked pinky finger gives life in a small way. Each word I write out is meant to fill a mind with knowledge, and my care in doing so is the love offering I have to give. It breathes life into the minds of my students.
I made no excuses for the mark on my finger that day. Rather, I smiled at it, grateful for the life and love that I am blessed to give.