About a month ago I fell when I was running. I’ve done this before, and have written often of my clumsiness. This was a real fall, though, and I caught myself with my right hand. I scraped off a lot of skin on my palm; the entire heel of it was hanging off in a flap. I also scraped my hip (ripped my tights) and my elbow. After contemplating for a moment whether to finish my run (really! how insane am I?) I walked home. By the time I got home my shirt was covered in blood where I’d been cradling my hand. My family was still sleeping so I washed it off myself, gritted my teeth, and went about my day. With some extra-large band-aids, lots of neosporin, and about a month, I am almost all healed up now.
Looking at my palm, with its quarter-sized circle of new, pink flesh, I am reminded, again, of the resilience of the human body. And of the parallel resilience of our spirit. As I move into the middle of my life, with its unexpected challenges and astonishing joys, I am aware in a new way that the years are making their mark on my body. I know this is true for all of us, though the marks are from different reasons: accidents, childbearing, illness. Life leaves its mark. And, of course, it makes invisible but indelible marks on our spirits.
Some of these wounds heal relatively simply, into clean scars, like my hand. Others, much less so. I have specific injuries, both physical and emotional, that I am still tending to, and whose healing is slower, more complicated. But I keep pushing on my palm, feeling the slight twinge of sensitivity, remembering the sharp pain that was so recently there, trying to remind myself that we do heal. The process may be slow, the scar jagged and imperfect, but we heal.
… see how the flesh grows back across a wound, with great vehemence, more strong than the simple, untested surface before. There’s a name for it on horses, when it comes back darker and raised: proud flesh, as all flesh is proud of its wounds, wears them as honors given out after battle, small triumphs pinned to the chest. – Jane Hirshfield
The world breaks everyone, and afterwards many are strong at the broken places. – Ernest Hemingway
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