Thursday, May 5, 2011

The scars that my fingers have had to trace... (God is using them somehow to pour in his grace.)

Fifteen years ago today I found a lump in my breast. I've written about the cancer experience a number of times.  I am still here by the Grace of God, as a poster-child for BCE (breast self-exam) and as one of the happy statistics, thanks to early, aggressive intervention.

I've got scars. If you lined them up end to end they could be measured in a few feet, not inches.

The paradox of scars is that they not only mark injury, they also signal repair and healing. What was once open and threatening to the body is now closed and healed over. No, it's not the same as it once was, and we may have to grieve that, but like gray hairs and wrinkles, scars are unavoidable in life.

The thing I've learned about scars -- be they physical or psychological -- they reveal the very places where God wishes to pour his grace into our lives. He knows those scars are usually where we hurt the most. And the areas of our life that need a healing touch. Scars can be points of access whereby, if we let  him, the Lord can reach in and do his best work in us.

Scars have particular meaning for Jesus. For by his wounds we are healed... (Is. 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24.)  I think it is rather profound that when Jesus was raised from the dead, his scars remained intact on his glorified body, and he actually shows them to the apostles, as if they had any doubt that it was really him. The Risen Lord reveals the scarring seemingly unashamed. And he invites our own doubts to touch him right there. As if to remind us that we can live with the scars... for they are not the end of us. Divine Mercy has seen to that.

I've been given a new life in Christ since that ominous day in 1996. I am truly grateful for his tender mercies.

I'm posting the lyrics to a little birthday/anniversary song that I sing to myself every year, (and that I have sung with other "survivors") that was written in the first year after my recovery. It always reminds me of my sufferings being held close by the Divine Mercy --whose feast day we've just celebrated.

                  "One Year Later"
Happy Birthday... welcome to your new life.
No longer a sickly mom, or an ailing wife...
Now I'm in another place and time.
There's a smile on my face as I taste the New Wine.
I am lifted up, held close by the hands of Mercy divine.

Scapel cut away at my disease, but can never make me truly free.
The only Cure for me is what I believe in.
But the fear really takes its toll...
The kind that rolls around and rocks your soul,
Makes me question all the things that make me whole.

Happy Birthday! Welcome to your new life!
No more a hospital bed for that young man's wife.

Now I'm in another place and time.
There's a smile on my face as I taste the New Wine.
I am lifted up, held close by the hands of Mercy divine.

On this side of Grace, I have more Hope in things not seen
Than any dose of medicine that they can pump in me.
The scars that my fingers have had to trace --
God is using them somehow to pour in His Grace.
My suffering has given way to seeking His Face.

      I have many sisters who suffer this same fate...
      Many have passed on, and some who still wait...
      But for me, I'm given
     I'm watching my children play.
     I'm smelling the flowers I planted for May.
     Happy Birthday!

Now I'm in another place and time.
There's a smile on my face as I drink in New Wine.
I am lifted up, held close by the hands of Mercy Divine.
©1997 Patricia W. Gohn

(I buy myself flowers very often, if not every week if something in the yard is not flowering. It's a life-giving exercise, a reminder to bloom. Plus I thought that would be a nicer picture to post, rather than something related to cancer.)


  1. what words here could match that song? thank you for sharing -- you're very special.

  2. @begojohnson: I have been blessed by many people that I've met in my post-cancer "new" life. Thanks for being such an life-giving friend!

  3. That is a beautiful post, Pat, and I love the song; so much.
    My mother is a 10 year breast cancer survivor. We are so blessed and it makes me happy to congratulate you too - your life is a gift to us.


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