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Nail marks

I swear, this is about the house, and not about religion.LiWeiSan7.jpg Because two religious posts in a row would mean I was turning into a "Catholic blogger," a fate I have fought bravely, because Catholic bloggers tend to be loopy (even ones I really like).

But faith has been on my mind lately, given that Easter and the Child's Confirmation just occurred one week apart. Yesterday's gospel reading was the story of Doubting Thomas, an excellent if inadvertent choice for skeptical and sometimes surly seventh-graders facing a smackdown with the Spirit. (Well, no smack any more, alas; instead of the light blow upon the cheek once given as a foretaste of persecution for one's faith, the bishop now shakes your hand. Unless you are planning a future in mergers and acquisitions, it just doesn't deliver the same thrill.)

I love the story of Thomas, whom I suspect has gotten a bum rap. I don't see him as "doubting," but rather crushed in grief and rage and abandonment, and not about to fall for any cruel pranks, stupid hallucinations, or other possible explanations for the impossible. Then Christ comes back, and he recognizes him by his scars. Not by his glory, or perfection--no Nip/Tuck or Extreme Make0ver here--but by the physical evidence of his torture and execution. Fulton J. Sheen once said, "Never let anyone tell you that all world religions are 'basically the same.' Only we worship a God with scars."

It seems, with passing years, that we recognize one another, in love, more and more by our scars. The evidence of what we've suffered bears the most authentic testimony to who we really are. My cat scratch from my aunt's farm cat, hugged too hard when I was 8 or 9...my C-section squiggle...my worry lines...the latest burn from baking--all would enable those who know me to say, "Yep, that's her." (And those are only the ones on the outside.) A perfect me, back from the dead or even the supermarket, would be unrecognizable and unimaginable, and would scare the hell out of my kid.

Which brings us to the house. When we passed the 20th anniversary here in the CrazyStable and still hadn't wrought any miracles worthy of Ty Pennington, ambition began to ebb inside me (and, I suspect, inside of Spouse as well, although he will admit only to frustration and peevishness). If our fortunes change, we'll still do plenty around here (that is, if our fortunes can stretch beyond a new roof). We only ever got this place about half-renovated to start with, and most of that work needs anything from a touch-up to a total re-do.

mauled%20doorframe.JPG  But I've come to terms with the fact that I love this house for its scars. Some more than others, of course. I'll be very happy, someday, to have a good finish carpenter replace the gouged doorframes on the third floor, the ones that suffered the wounds of multiple mortises for countless locks during the Stable's incarnation as a Chinese boarding house.


Other scars, however, will be tenderly conserved, like the taped-on name tag of "M. Ste. Marie" on my office closet door, a relic of the house's 1950s as a hostelry for teachers at a nearby private school.

alicia%20closet.JPG Nor would the Child countenance the removal or painting-over of this scratchitti, inside a scuffed built-in closet on the second-floor landing: "Alicia's Closet." What long-gone little girl laid claim to it? my daughter loves to wonder. "A brand-new house," she has said, "must be boring. Promise you'll never sell this house!"

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
John 20:24-28

Painting: Li Wei San, Chinese Christian Artist, b. 1928
Artist’s statement: “It is the time of great culture revolution, an old pastor was transferred to do manual labor in the countryside. At middle night he read Bible alone. A stranger visited and talking with him but he did not recognize who he is. Suddenly he looked at the nail mark on this hand, he discovered: He is my Lord.”
Posted on Monday, March 31, 2008 at 07:08PM by Registered CommenterBrenda from Brooklyn | Comments2 Comments

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Reader Comments (2)

April 1, 2008 at 10:03PM | Unregistered CommenterXris (Flatbush Gardener)
I agree that there is something to living with a home's imperfections. That's why we buy old houses, as they come with all the imperfections and frailties that warm our spirit.
April 6, 2008 at 06:41PM | Unregistered CommenterAllison

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