“Scandal of particularity.”

It’s a phrase Madeleine L’Engle uses in one of her books.  It surrounds me.

I bear the mark of scandal on my face as Hester Prynne did upon her chest.  Both marks of extravagant love.  But, while her mark was meant for shame, mine is glory.  While her lover hid himself and would have hidden all signs of his love if possible, my Lover proclaims His name from the mountain peaks and placed the mark on me Himself — not in one bold stamp of ownership, but gradually, deliberately, one particular eyelash at a time, until the row of white above my left eye was complete.

I knew that He did it, even then, when I was eight years old, but I liked to share the dermatologist’s diagnosis rather than that simpler answer, and was quick to add that the doctor said it might go away.  For though our culture claims to value uniqueness, would they not call it cruelty to mark a little child so, to make her face different from all other faces, to subject her to the incessant questioning of tactless peers?  They would be slow to believe you if you said it was a mark of love.  I was slow learning it, too.

Love.  Scandalously particular, selecting this lash and not that to lose its pigment, leaving, even sixteen years later, nine dark lashes amid the light ones.  I am struck with His ownership when I look in the mirror, forced to acknowledge that not even my face is my own, that I am a peculiar people, an elect exile, imperfect, but graced.

Love.  Scandalously particular.  Selecting one boy and not another to drive off a bridge and be pinned beneath his car.  Ordaining a drought so that the boy did not drown as he lay beneath the bridge, ordaining that his back broke low enough so that he did not suffocate while waiting for help, so that he was able to squeeze my hand when I stood beside his hospital bed today.  And you might say that the boy there with IVs and a neck brace does not look much like the work of Love, yet I stood there and knew it could be nothing but that.

Two weeks ago I wrote in my journal that God “will not waste wounds” and I wrote of the many I know whose wounds have made them beautiful.  And still we turn to God, indignant at each fresh injury, large or small, and want to know what He is about, hurting us.  And I, with the mark on my face which never gave me physical pain, and which some have called a “beauty mark,” I feel inadequate to say how His more violent marks will become beautiful.  But still I know that they must, and as I bear witness to His making of me, I bear witness to His knowledge of the particulars, others’ as well as mine.

He is scandalously particular.  I praise Him.

©2011 by Stacy Nott

10 thoughts on ““Scandal of particularity.”

  1. Stacy, no comment I could leave could possibly explain the emotions that I felt as I read this post. God has certainly left his loving mark on you, on JM, on our precious son. His loving marks have a way of spreading it seems, to encompass many more people than just the one on whom the mark has been physically made. I am thankful that the marks of love He gave you have now impressed upon me the glory of His love, even when we don’t know the grand outcome of His work.
    Thank you.

  2. ccp says:

    this is so beautiful. thank you! it means so much to hear your words about you and JM, and i take much away from it for me as well..
    Thank you

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