Two thoughts are swirling around in my head today, two quotations that have been with me since I was about 13….for some reason they are now functioning for me right now at the same time, they’re the opposites for each other, and that’s compelling to me…
“My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a reminder for me that I have fought His battles who now will be my rewarder.”
This is actually part of an engraving around the stand that holds a memorial book to soliders from the first world war in the parliment buildings in Ottawa. So I guess I learned it when I was in Ottawa for my grade 8 class trip. Now, the actual point of this statement is that going to war is a godly thing to do, and I’m not sure what to make of that, but I’d rather deconstruct it in a different way…I love the idea of the marks and scars being somehow optional, ‘I carry with me’, there’s a sense of choice there, I will carry these…it reminds me of the Ondaatje line, “wounded without the pleasure of a scar.” The scar has a purpose, and you can claim that purpose and take that purpose with you….
“When thou passest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, for the fire is roses.”
This is the second quotation. It’s actually from Pilgrim’s Progress, not the most fun book in the world to read…I actually read it in full in my last year at Carleton in a Renaissance lit class. But I got that quotation from Madeleine L’Engle’s A Swiftly Tilting Planet when I was a kid, that was one of my favourite books…I still like to reread that one. But….this always stayed with me…which, as I know now, it really a statement about how Jesus is always with the pilgrim, protecting him, keeping him from harm that looks devestating, but faith will turn the fire to roses….lovely, lovely, but now I’m thinking of this differently….this is exactly what Ondaatje said, “without the pleasure…” the fire of roses is still a fire, but the pilgrim doesn’t get to carry his marks and scars with him as a reminder that he has fought. Is it better this way? To be washed clean of your battles? Or better to be scarred by them, not to be crippled, but to be reminded?