i got two new tattoos this past weekend.
as many of you are aware, i recently traveled to Greece. it was a very invigorating and spiritually enriching trip. i could see the ancient scriptures coming to life before my eyes.
and it renewed my vigor for what i believe in.
do you know what i mean? some life experiences occur, and you consciously realize: this set of memories and emotions and lessons will stick in my mind for a very long time . . . because they have solidified my beliefs.
i believe. and i am committed.
it’s fascinating to think about the dedication of a tattoo.
people get a lot of things, for a lot of reasons.
i ended up getting my art done at a tattoo parlor in Vancouver. arguably, one of the nicest ones on the planet. it was spacious and clean and the artists were super talented.
my artist, Rene, took a long time to talk with me and make sure that we were completely on the same page.
which is all reassuring, since these things are permanent. they don’t wash away.
one of the conversations i had with her centered around the ideals of humanity. inevitably, as soon as i mentioned my social work career, we started talking about deep things. like, whether or not people were capable of getting along with each other. and if everybody had the same capacity for good and evil lurking inside of them.
i told her that my ideas stemmed from the beauty of God’s gift to humanity: Jesus.
and from the courage and strength required to believe in things that others do not understand.
we also talked about Wall-E (the kids movie) and how sometimes all we wanted to do was escape from this planet and find another one. start over where people were more kind and respectful of each other.
i don’t think such a place actually exists. but i could be wrong.
so, the actual ink.
on a Wednesday morning this past May, i sat down in the Thessaloniki airport, in Northeastern Greece. my conversation companion was a Greek woman named Maria, and i wanted to talk to her about something important: an ichthus.
ichthus = Greek for fish.
when i was growing up, my family read the Bible. my mother had a leather bound version, with a deeply etched fish design and letters that didn’t quite look right.
she described it to me as an important symbol, but i was a kid and didn’t really get it.
but i wanted to.
Greece was the location of the first Christian church, led by a guy named Paul who originally hated Jesus and then had a life-changing experience that led him to reevaluate that choice.
[hm. that sounds familiar.]
at that time, political and religious temperatures were a bit spiked, particularly in regards to this character, Jesus. He was a bit of a rabblerouser.
[what does that word even mean…? i dunno, but i like it.]
so, there wasn’t a whole lot of openness to this new concept of the “Little Christs” that were popping up and starting this revolution of thought.
a lot of people were hostile to the beliefs of these ancient Greeks, so they developed a bit of a code. it was top secret spy stuff, which gets me all interested. as a means of identifying with others who shared their beliefs, a member of the early church would take a stick and draw half of the ichthus in the dirt.
if another person would draw the corresponding line, completing the image of the fish, then it was clear that they were a safe person and had like-minded beliefs. when i first heard this tale, i got very excited.
i found myself thinking that it was an interesting concept.
what an incredible position to find yourself in.
so, you have this fantastic new life-altering perspective on the world, and it means a lot to you, but you can’t talk about it. well, you can. but it’s a huge risk.
when i was in Greece, i remember thinking that it was a beautiful country. the scenery, the water, the history . . . all of it resonated so deeply within me. it made me want to be wildly dedicated.
all of this is what it means:
Then the fish has the acronym of these words fused within, denoted like this:
to summarize, i have made a statement.
there have been times in my life when i have wondered.
i wondered if the things that i learned as a child really had any basis in my life as an adult. i wondered if i could actually identify myself with words bound in a book written thousands of years ago. and i wondered if i was crazy to continue believing in something that i couldn’t always see or feel.
well. i’ve stopped wondering.
i believe. and i believe it to the point that i have permanently stated it for anyone to see.
[well. anyone who looks at me when i’m wearing short sleeves, at least.]
there are very few things in this life that i feel completely sure of. and i am mostly okay with that. i recognize that life is unpredictable and love is complicated. i have accepted the fact that there are pieces of this life that i will never truly understand.
which is why i am so reassured by what i know to be stable and true.
the only thing i have found to never fail:
the One who has called me is faithful. and i will continue to believe in that until my days are done.
praise be to the name of God forever and ever
wisdom and power are His
He changes times and seasons
He sets up kings and brings them low
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning
He reveals deep and hidden things
and He knows what lies in darkness
light dwells with Him.
there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.
[all of this comes from the Bible, in the book of Daniel, chapter 2].