Show me how tired you are, when put your children to sleep and then remained awake to study. Show me your exhaustion; the backaches, fatigue and mental stress of work and then show me how you still served the poor. Or, maybe you’re bone wearied tired and you still see the church, the broken places, the church scandals, the priests, the shame.
Tell us about the wounded love. You know the one that lasted for several years and didn’t work. Tell me what it’s to ask someone to forgive you, to say you’re sorry, to ask for forgiveness. Tell me what it’s to bury a loved one, to let go, to struggle against personal demons, to tame them temporarily and fight them all your life.
Tell me what it’s like sleep yet long for the one you love. They’re not there, they’re gone. You search your heart and think of that person, hoping in some magical way they think of you. Tell me what it’s like to lose early dawn hours, not to sleep, but awaiting a distant phone call from family, hoping the disaster, the crime, the fire, the crime, the accident, the disease, the devastation did not destroy them.
Tell me what it’s like to disappoint people; that no matter how hard life is, how hard you try, you failed and had to explain some personal weakness. You wish they could understand, but they don’t. Maybe they can’t, and maybe they never will. Tell me what it’s like, when you’re awake at night, you’re dying, and all you see are those you’ve hurt.
Show me those scars and I say I will show you the depth of your love.
Shortly after the death of Christ, St. Thomas probably had given up on love. The responsibility of church leadership was weighing him down. He fought hard for the people he loved, but in the end, the people he tried to help got angry and killed. Like many of us, he put so much hope into something only to be hurt again. Maybe he hurt from disappointment. Maybe he was afraid to give ‘love’ his heart again, especially after giving so many times, again and again.
I have been hurt many times. I myself have hurt many times. In process, scarring so many others. For a while, I put love into a vase, glued it to shelf, left it for admiration and enjoying only its sight but little of the benefit. It was simply too hard to love.
Love is messy. It’s always messy. They change, we change. They all change. Our needs are up, their needs are up. We keep trying to cross chasms only to fall into the gorge below. We become vulnerable. We tell someone how crazy we are about them; how much we like them, how much we want to spend more time with them. But they’re not interested. How long does each of continue to do that, before we become like Thomas and throw it up on the shelf?
Christ, Buddha, Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King and all great religious leaders would easily quote, “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.” God knows the level of your scars. God knows the honesty, the touch, the pain and agony you feel. He sees you by the very nature and depth of them.
Of all of the relationships we have in this interdependent experience of ours, the most direct, most emotional, and most apt to bring great joy and suffering is a close, intimate relationship with another human being. We give it great, special prominence in our mind, but it helps to remember that it is the same as the apple. It’s about interconnection, interdependence. You cannot experience great love without the possibility immense pain.
What we don’t see is that the scars each person has is part of a greater, more glorious love. When Thomas saw Christ, he saw the scars. That’s how he recognized Christ. Ideally, it’s how we recognize those who love us … and those we love as well. We are all scarred and scabbed. We’ve been beaten, but we’ve been molded.
It may come to pass in the next life that I will not know you by your accomplishments, by your success. I will know you by your scars. In heaven, I will recognize you by what you have suffered for love’s sake. In the beginning, the Apostles asked the master to show them scars. In the end, Christ may do the same.
So here today, Buddhist and Christian alike, we should only ask one question, “Show me your scars?” If you do, I will then show you the greatness of your love.