Scarred, Scared, and Sacred

(In Other Words, On Being Human)

(In your mind’s eye, picture this…)

We sit in the hushed dark of curtains pulled over summer brightness.

About seventy of us are gathered.

Someone is softly playing piano in the semi-shadowed room.

Slowly, we quiet down. We close our collective eyes. Open our shared ears and hearts.

Prayers. Voices. Stories commemorating faith and sacrifice fill the room.

Then –

Fabric swishes against glass. Light infuses the curtains of our eyelids.

We lift our lids. The curtains of the room are lifted too.

Between the windows, a beautiful sculpture.

Mother and Child.

Their dark, immobile heads are vivid, aglow.

The sculpture is not an icon, nor is it intended to be part of the ceremony. But somehow it tells a timeless story.

So much pain is there, in the mother’s downcast face.

So much fierce gratitude, protectiveness, loss.

I wonder how much the child knows, how much he imagines and absorbs…


The more I experience of life – its joys and traumas, and all the opportunities we have for getting out of our own heads and laughing (lovingly) at ourselves – the more I want to write about coming to life.

How can I explain this?

It is without explanation. But it visited me today, embodied in this trinity of words:

 scarred, scared, sacred

And of course, as with any trinity, these words cast a bright shadow, a visible echo:

healing, heart-giving, human

As I bump around the world, I often feel like I live in the threshold between these two trinities. Both scarred and healing. Both scared and heart-giving. Both sacred and human.

To be honest, I struggle to write about the sacred, without negating our messy humanity. And I struggle to nourish and strengthen my humanity, without hiding or marginalizing the soul.

I know that both – and beyond! – are possible.

For instance, I dreamt last night of Maya Angelou. A woman who spoke from the scarred, scared and sacred places in  herself, in a way that is healing, heart-giving, and humanizing for us all.

In my dream, Maya invited me into her apartment, where she was making dinner and preparing a bath. She spoke to me like I was a friend, like it was a commonplace occurrence, my dropping by for an evening chat.

That’s how I’d like to live, to speak. As a generous invitation to share a very real, very commonplace and utterly original beauty. The beauty of human contradiction, held in loving embrace.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s