Scraped Knees (2009)

by Fr. Jeff

In going through some old files, I found a post I wrote back in 2009 before the creation of this blog. I think it is apt for Holy Week. Enjoy.

*          *          *          *

When I was a little boy, I loved to roller skate. We had a very large driveway providing us with plenty of space to practice our skills. But when my dad built the driveway, he was told by the civil parish that the driveway could not be connected to the street. The parish said that they were replacing the road soon and they would connect the driveway to the road sometime in the future. In the mean time, we filled the gap between the driveway and the road with gravel. As the cars would drive over the gravel patch, however, some of the rocks would find their way into the driveway.

One day while I was skating, I made it about half way down the driveway and found one of those rocks. My skates came to a halt, but I kept going. My right knee made contact with the cement first. In fact, I can still vividly recall the sting of that scraped knee. Like any boy would do, I picked myself up with blood trickling down my leg and headed for the one place I knew I would find refuge—home.

When I opened the back door, I was met by my father. Upon seeing the injury, he did not say many words; well, not many that I am able to recall at least. He just led me into the kitchen, picked me up, and sat me on the kitchen counter. Seeing the pain on my face, he could right away tell that I was trying my best to hold back my tears. After all, I wanted to be his big boy. But seeing right to the heart of the situation, he softly called for the one who could always make it better—mom. Within a few seconds, she appeared in the doorway with that concerned look on her face. That look told me everything I needed to know; I was injured and she wanted to ease that pain. Together, they tended to my wound, bandaged it up, and sent me back on my way. Soon I was back on those skates as if nothing had ever happened.

As I have reflected on this experience, I have come to see an image of the spiritual life in this common everyday experience. Time and time again, I have felt the pain of skinning my spiritual knee. Finding a vast sprawling driveway of life before me, I have always taken advantage of the ability to lace up my spiritual skates and go to town. Racing around corners as fast as possible, performing little stunts here and there, and often showing off. But every once in a while, stones seemed to just appear right in front of my path. Sometimes, they were big enough to see coming and could be avoided, but at others they lay hidden until I found myself falling knee first into the concrete.

It is in those moments on the ground that decisions had to be made. Where would I go? To whom would I look for healing? Like the prodigal son, there was only once place to go—Home. So many times before, I had experienced the love of my Father and Mother and knew their healing hands held what it was I needed. Each and every time that I picked myself up and headed for the door, I was met by the familiar face of my Father. Without saying many words, he would simply lead me inside and set me up on the counter. With that same sense of quiet understanding, he knew exactly what I needed. He knew the pain I experienced on the inside but luckily had the perfect remedy. He would simply beckon for the one whom he knew would make it all better—Mom.

The image of Our Lady, Refuge of Sinners, is one of the most valuable titles of Our Blessed Mother. We suffer. We are broken, battered, and torn. So often, we find ourselves on our knees nursing the wounds caused by the stones in our path. But by getting up and finding the courage to head for Home, we are greeted by our most loving Father. Our Father, seeing right to the heart of the situation, sees our longing for the one who “will make it all better.” He gently calls her forth, and swiftly she comes. It is her presence that heals the sting of our wounds. Without fail, it is Mom who brings the most comfort in the times we suffer from sin. What she offers in that situation is more than just a helping hand to the Father. It is her presence that always seems to make it better.

There is something that fulfills the longing of the human heart to have our Mother standing by our side acknowledging our pain. She sees the reality of our sin and is there to acknowledge its terrible nature. Being the brave Mother that she is, she never hides her face or shies away from any situation. Instead she reaches out to us, her wounded children, and gives to us the comfort and healing that we so desperately need. She works closely with the Father to care for our wounds and to ease our pain. Then, with our wounds bandaged, they send us back on our way. Soon, we are right back on our skates practicing our skills.

With her prayers, may we always have the courage to pick ourselves up when we fall and head for Home. There, seeing our Father at the door, may we find the forgiveness and healing to our sin. May Mary, the Refuge of Sinners, always come at the request of the Father and at the sound of our cry. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.