Today I am sharing a story of courage. Miyya's story has been making the internet rounds, but if you haven't seen it yet, the youtube is below this post. (Pronounce her name "maya".) The reason this story is important to me is because of one thing she said that has stuck with me. "[My mother] made me show my burn."
We all have scars that simply are not going to go away in this lifetime. Some of them, like Miyya, mark our body like a billboard for our suffering. All of us have scars on the inside that may not be evident except to those around us the most. We all know that for some things in life, healing does not mean "removal". Miyya's burn mark is going to be with her for the rest of her life. We all have something like that, too.
In this case, healing means to invest our scar with new meaning, a sacred meaning. Instead of understanding our scars as marks of brokenness, they become marks of beauty, strength, wisdom, and a sign of a wholeness that is so whole that it has room for a burn mark in that wholeness.
If you have never heard of the Japanese pottery tradition called kintsugi, or golden joinery, I encourage you to look that up. But the base idea is that broken pottery, such as tea vessels, are more beautiful and valuable once their cracks have been repaired. The cracks are repaired with a special gold-based substance. So the vessel doesn't look the way it used to. Somehow, it looks better. The owner of the pottery does not throw their pottery out. They join it back together with gold and continue to use it and to pass it down for generations. It's even more precious after it was broken and put back together. Pottery--and people--become wabi sabi. Perfectly imperfect.
So the gift we have, the transformation that is offered to us, is to stop hiding our burn and to start showing it. We also have the opportunity to transform into witnesses for others' burn marks. To really look and to not turn away. To embrace and even laugh together, trading scar stories, those from the inside or the outside.
We can also be our own witnesses. To look upon ourselves and to not turn away. We can be the first witness. We don't have to wait for others to progress to that state. We can set the example. We show our burn and say, "I'm so damn beautiful that a burn mark can only make me more gorgeous. I am that kind of beautiful."
Showing our burns is both tender and tough. We become that tender and that tough. We become walking stories, walking music. Perfectly imperfect.
The birds they sang at break of day
"Start again" I heard them say
Don't dwell on what has passed away
Or what is yet to be
You can add up the parts
But you won't have the sum
Strike up the march; there is no drum
Every heart to love will come
But like a refugee
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen, Anthem