We visited the Johns Hopkins Cleft Palate Clinic today to seek out medical advice for Levi’s cleft lip and palate. It’s on the same floor as the Childhood Oncology Ward. Perspective.
We looked at before and after pictures of the many children that this doctor and his team have helped. We talked about what Levi’s palate probably looks like (alveolar cleft). Our teenager wanted to know what happens to his boogers. And that’s when the doctor won us over. He used the word “booger” in as many contexts as possible, boogers here, boogers there, boogers, boogers everywhere. You must know that our whole family enjoys a good booger laugh…oh wait, here I go with the booger talk.
What really happened was that we all laughed in the midst of a stressful conversation (think Steel Magnolias, “Laughter through tears, my favorite emotion.”). Levi’s cleft palate is no minor thing, but it’s not that major either. It’s going to be a tough month when he has surgery early this summer, but he GETS TO HAVE SURGERY THIS SUMMER. This condition would very likely be left untreated in an orphanage in rural China. Our boy has hope. He has no idea what is heading into his life!
I wonder if one of the ways God is working in us through Levi’s story is in the wearing of the wound. His is on the outside. He doesn’t have a choice about that. I wear my wounds on the inside. Sometimes I imagine that I build a guard around these scars, covering over them with jokes or sarcasm or irritability. We all need surgery to be whole. We all need the Great Physician to come in and clean out the bad stuff and build up the good stuff and make it all into something beautiful. He’s really good at that.
It strikes me that the beginning of Lent is a sweet moment to contemplate this wounded-ness that we all bear. Just as Jesus set his face toward the cross, we can set our gaze toward the suffering that is a part of this life. We can see the countenance of Christ in our boy’s lip and palate. We can invite Him into our own pain, and into the healing that will come. We can focus our sight firmly on Christ, “who is able to do infinitely more than we ever dared to ask or imagine.” And we can wear our wounds, knowing that He makes beautiful things, beautiful things out of the dust of our lives.