We Are All Tattooed
I gotta tell you honestly, it took me awhile to get used to Rosie’s tattoo. I’d ridden with her through unusual hair colors and piercings of body parts I’d always believed God never meant to have pierced (eyebrow, tongue). But this was different. This was permanent. Here's what Rose wrote for the NPR Studio 360 website feature "Occupational Ink":
In school for sound design and audio engineering, I had a professor who stressed the importance of "checking phantom power" (48 volts). To protect delicate microphones, he said, we would need to be careful about making sure the extra power supply was turned off before plugging them in. "If there's one thing you should tattoo on your arm, it's 'check +48V'"
So I did.
Now, living in New York, as an active engineer, my tattoo is a funny inside joke- and a reminder of how hard I've worked to realize my career dream.
These days, several years down the road, I don’t even notice her arm adornment; or if I do, I recognize it as a familiar feature of an appendage I’ve loved Rose’s whole life.
In Costa Rica this summer, the kids loved it when we painted their faces. Mariposa (butterfly). Corazon (heart). Granted, we used washable paint, and it all disappeared at bathtime. But the children wanted us to paint statements on them in bright colors: this is who I am, this is what I care about. They ran around giggling, delighted with their temporary tattoos.
I very much enjoy reading, and hearing, Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber. This Denver-based minister leads her flock at the House for All Sinners and Saints. Hers is a really fascinating Lutheran voice. She’s a former stand-up comic, and a recovering alcoholic. She loves the liturgy. Her congregation is inclusive to the max. To her, God lives and loves and suffers with us. And Nadia has tattoos. Lots of them, all over. Religious, many of them. Her body is etched with the symbols of her faith. I wonder (not really, I know the answer): would I be so bold as to be inked? (nah, too chicken of course). And yet…
And yet. I AM tattooed. We are all tattooed. From the minute we are born, with our downy new baby skin. We have birthmarks, and then freckles. The little touches that help make us all physically unique. Later, our skin bears the scars of sun and of time. Each laugh line, every wrinkle, is a tattoo, an irreversible marking on our bodies. Some of us try to stave off our tattoos with sunscreen, or with Botox, but eventually the marks appear anyway.
So, what do our life tattoos say about us? That we are not blank canvases but full, rich ones. So let us celebrate the message we have for the world, spelled out on our flesh: we are here, living fully every amazing day that we’ve been given. At any age, we are God’s works of art. Beautiful and beloved. Just look at us!