Scars depict stories in the most poignant manner. They narrate the occurrences of a body. I am fascinated by the volumes scars speak if we only listen. Although they show experiences of pain, they also show life. They display a life lived. Our skin becomes a parchment with blood the ink marking lasting figures. They encompass countless factors of life: accidents, mal-intent, desperation, selflessness.

Falling down, dropping a knife, misjudging a distance when jumping over a chainsaw, grabbing a hot pan—all generate scars telling the story of a mistake, an accident—an insignificant consequence. But yet… an inverted Y dividing the abdomen from the chest, missing breasts, screws holding a skull together, purple ridges surrounding knees, marks from shattered glass blown out of a vehicle window—misfortunes only describable as accidents. Things no one ever desires yet happen. Are the scars from tripping less significant than scars from a mastectomy? Perhaps.

Cigarette burns, buckle imprints, nail impressions, disruptions of smooth facial features—scars from abuse. Do we see what people so intentionally hide? Do we see the baggy clothes covering the pain inflicted by loved ones? Are these scars more significant than unintentional figures marking bodies? Maybe.

Parallel lines running over forearms, chests, bellies, legs, ribs, hips; marks appearing to be old floor burns; burns awkwardly disregarded as accidents; nail impressions covered through avoidance—stories of self-harm. I know these best, as my parchment bears such figures. Are these stories of desperation less significant because they are a product of self? Conceivably.

Marks running along mid to lower back, a line coursing horizontally across a woman’s abdomen, a small dot on the inside crook of an elbow—tales of love through sacrifice. Are these the most significant stories a person’s shin can tell?

Who is to say the most significant figures marking our parchments? Who has the right to judge another’s life because of the number of scars or the lack of scars? Only One has the right to judge. So instead of judging or assuming—ask. Ask about the stories someone’s body tells without their words. We can learn more about a person by listening to their pain than by entertaining idle talk. We will see more if we open our eyes to absorb the subtleties than if we merely regard faces, eyes, clothes, figure, muscles, fat, hair.

“But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” ~ Matthew 13:16-17


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