My sister and I bolted through the front door, out of breath.   The long dusty lane leading back to our Kentucky farm was not the smoothest of race tracks.  This daily run from the bus stop to home often put my sister and I at odds with each other for the rest of the evening. 


Often I would win this race, especially if I tricked my sister into carrying my book pack before leaving the bus.  Then again, I was 2 years older than her.   In those early grade school days she was quite gullible; actually, she was just too nice.


Mom greeted us at the door with a huge hug and kiss and then she looked at me and pointed to the back door.   She did not have to use words.  That pointing jester communicated my chores were waiting as soon as I changed my clothes.  Again, leaning toward on my sister’s generosity---I asked her for help.   This time she did not bend; so out the back door I stormed to take on those farming tasks independently; murmuring under my breath as I stomped to the barn.


There were animals to feed and water.  On this day I was not eager to fulfill my obligations.   In the feed barn I poured the pellets of grain into the buckets and walked to the pig pens and began dumping the food into the long wooden troughs.   Immediately the pigs were all around me and I struggled to free myself from the stall.  I pounded back to the barn to fill the buckets with water . . . on the way I met my sister.   Angry for her lack of cooperation, I tossed the bucket in the air toward her and blurted out, “You get the water!”  


It is to this point that my sister and I have debated time and again over the years.   As we contest each other’s opinion, whether or not I was just pitching her the bucket (my side) or I deliberately threw the bucket at her because I was angry (my sisters unwavering argument), our kids giggle in the background because of the silliness of keeping a disagreement alive for so long.  Even though through the years our outward tone has become a bit humorous, inside we are boldly standing on the validity of our judgments.


Those three to four seconds that it took for that bucket to leave my hand and hit my sister in the forehead seemed like eternity.   I watched the bucket turn in slow motion through the air until the bottom lip hit hard against her head.   How could time move at such a slow, snail’s pace?   This event took place 33 years ago, yet it seems like yesterday.  Even so, those few seconds of a bucket tumbling through the air seemed like years.


As the pail bounced off her head and hit the ground all I saw was blood covering my sister’s puzzled face.   She just stood there; then seeing the blood she began her run toward the house yelling for Mom all the way.   I followed closely behind, then eventually began pushing her toward the house in spite of the knowledge I was in the biggest trouble of my life.  


My mom saw the blood and immediately placed a wet towel over the fresh wound.  My sister’s eyes were wide with fear and tears mingled with the blood as they ran down her face.   By this time my little sister was beginning to answer Mom’s probing question, “How did this happen?”   The whole time my sister recounted the events, my mother’s eyes never left mine.  They glared at me, piercing the air like a spotlight in the fog.  Her stern look was speaking volumes.  Yet, she said not one word.  When my sister explained the part of how I threw the bucket, her eyes widened and her lips tightened and curled inward until they were no longer visible.    I wilted like a flower in the scorching sun.


When most of the bleeding stopped my mother examined the 1 inch gash I put in my sister’s head. Swiftly she made the decision, “This will require a trip to the emergency room.”   


As mom drove to the hospital I was quiet.  I knew anything I said would somehow be used against me.   My sister reclined against my mother in the front seat as we sped down the highway.  This was before there were laws about seatbelts so my sister made full use of the front seat by propping up her feet on the passenger side.  Even though room could have been made, I sat in the back seat listening to my sister whimpering as we traveled.  Each screech of pain made me feel worse and I sank deeper in the seat. 


I suspected my punishment would be coming as soon as we got home.  I was at least hoping that the whole hospital would not be witnesses to my sentence of death   Then again; maybe that was not such a bad idea.  All joking aside, I knew this was too big of a thing for which you were only grounded.  This was going to hurt.  When Dad found out he was going to do some house cleaning and he was going to start by dusting my backside.


As mom filled out the papers at the glass window, my sister and I sat in the waiting room.   The large clock on the wall ticked against the rhythm of my heartbeat.  I could not distinguish which one was louder.   Each time my heart beat I knew my sister’s head was throbbing and then the clock would tick.  This round circled my in my head until a nurse stepped out and loudly stated my sister’s name. 


My mom and sister rose from their seats and I buried myself in mine.   Mom looked back and reached behind her and held her hand out to me.  I whimsically took it and followed quietly behind.  We were lead into a bright room filled with white linins and light blue curtains.   The nurse helped my sister onto the table and pulled up a chair beside it for my mother.   Then she escorted me outside and closed the door.   She pulled up a chair near my sister’s room and gave me permission to sit down.


Eventually a man wearing a white lab coat and one of those heart-beat-listening-things resting around his neck approached the door.   (To this day I cannot pronounce stethoscope.)  He smiled at me as he knocked on the door and entered.  As the door closed I heard the introductions and then he said, “Let me take a look at this.”   By this time the door was closed.  The sound was muffled but I heard the doctor ask my sister the same question my mother asked before, “How did this happen?”   


My sister began to speak and I begin to cringe with each understood word, “Brother….angry….bucket….head….blood…”    Suddenly the door opened and the man in the lab coat said, “Come on in here a minute.”  The doctor looks quite different now. He is wearing rubber gloves on his hands, a mask over his nose and mouth and wearing a silver saucer on his forehead.


“So…I hear you did this to your sister,” he said as he positioned his shiny tools on a cloth covered table.  I was still and silent, looking at the floor.


He continued, “Well your sister is going to have to have some stitches to repair this cut you made on her forehead.   Since you caused this I am going to let you stand right here (pointing to my sister’s side) and watch.”


And watch I did.  I reluctantly watched as he took a needle and pushed the numbing medication under my sister’s skin; I saw it bubble up as he slowly pushed on the syringe.  Each time he pierced my sister’s skin with a curved needle I watched as he pulled the thread through and tied it into a neat, clean knot.   I have never felt so sorry as I did that moment. I wished that bucket would have never existed.  I wished I would have never thrown it at my sister.  My lingering thought haunted me, “I caused all this.”  


Over the years I have been prideful as I recounted the great bucket debate.  And I have never overlooked an opportunity to point out my innocence.    


Reality…I have lived a lie a long time.    Truthfully, I was angry that day.  I did throw that bucket at my sister because I was annoyed at her.  I did want my sister to hurt the way I was hurting inside because she would not assist me in MY chores.   I wanted it to hurt; I did not want it to scar.


Sister, I am sorry.   I caused you pain because of my sin.   I apologize for being so prideful.   I am sorry I wanted to hurt you.  I am sorry I left you with a scar that you have had your whole life, marking my failure and the hurt I have caused you.     


My sister is not the only one I have sinned against.  My dear sweet Jesus took my sin . . . my pain . . . my piercings . . . and made them His scars.   Jesus bears those scars of my sin.   Forever His hands will show the cost of my sinful pride.   I thank you Jesus for paying the price of my sin.  


My parents never punished me for throwing that bucket at my sister.   I guess they thought the doctor punished me enough that day.   Thank God for amazing grace; I learned it from bucket.