I remember so clearly that day when my then-three-year-old realized that the place between her eyes, the place she had scratched so hard, was bleeding. It was the cause of much drama and concern.
A band-aid wouldn’t work; it was too big and it “touched” her eyes. I ended up wadding up a little piece of toilet paper and sticking it there, just as I remember seeing my dad do when he would cut himself shaving.
When I pulled off the toilet paper, we had more drama. “But it’s BLEEDING!” she insisted. “What will HAPPEN?!”
I assured her that a scab would form – was, in fact, already starting to form.
“BUT I DON’T LIKE SCABS!” (Well, neither do I.)
I continued, as best I could, to explain to her about how a scab is the body’s band-aid. “The skin underneath will be fixed. The scab is protecting it. Then it’s going to fall off. You just watch.”
All week, she kept an eye on that scab.
“Mommy, is my scab smaller?” she would ask me.
And I would have to concede that yes, it was shrinking.
Then came the day when I noticed it was gone altogether.
“Where’s your scab?” I asked.
“Is it gone?” she asked.
“Look in the mirror,” I told her, and she did. Much rubbing and searching and, of course, preening followed.
“It’s all gone!” she announced. “Where did it go?”
And then we had to rehash the whole how-a-scab-works discussion.
Since it’s disappeared, she has brought it up at various points. “Remember my scab?” she’ll start, and we’ll continue along the familiar path. It’s almost scripted.
This frequent discussing and thinking about scabs has made me think about some other parts of my life. For one thing, I have a lot of scabs. Not on my knees or between my eyes so much, but inside, covering up places where I’m still tender and healing.
I’ve been thinking a lot about these scabbed over places, and I’ve realized that many of these wounds are things I’ve kept from God. They are things I’m trying to heal on my own, but they’re just staying scabbed.
Often, in Mass, I’m overcome. It’s not unusual for me to cry, and I’ve never been able to explain this. Maybe there is no explanation. But maybe part of what I feel in Mass is the tender touch of God, reaching down, holding me tenderly, and kissing away my scabs. There are a lot of them, and healing takes time. Maybe, just maybe, when I let go of my pride enough to let God fully in, he peels off the scabs and shows me the new me underneath. It stings a little.
“Remember my scab?” I’ll pray later.
“It’s all gone, honey,” he’ll reply. “There’s no need to remember it any longer.”