I have been contemplating a scar on my arm that I managed to avoid getting for 50 years. It happened in an instant several years ago, almost unnoticeably, as I brushed against the oven rack while removing a casserole dish. It grew increasingly painful and raw as time went on until it “healed.”

Now I am marked for the rest of my life, and the memory of that moment will never leave. It represents the deeper burns of this life’s losses, heartaches, deaths, and betrayals. I want to explain them away. To try to make them fit like mosaic pieces into life’s bigger picture and call them art. But the pieces don’t fit. They’re not part of the natural order of things that I can call good, even if good eventually comes out of them.

There’s no shortcut through the long and winding valley of the shadow. Healing eventually comes, in its own time, in the form of muted, slightly numb, highly visible scars that will always remind me to be a little more wary of ovens.