I knew near the end of last year I wanted to live more artfully, and for me that meant embracing beauty and whimsy everywhere. It also meant creating such wherever I found it lacking. I also wanted to wrap my arms around the symbols that speak to me, especially when it comes to my life with Christ. I enlisted my husband in my quest for the lovely.
See, In 1999 I got a tattoo of a lotus flower over my breast. It was a tiny, very stylized Egyptian design in black. The lotus was a good symbol for me. It's speaks to me of a flower so resilient it can bloom in anything; dirt, garbage, dung. It just keeps growing no matter what awfulness it finds itself in.
I was always knee deep in dung, lovies. Truly, it was a rockin' symbol for me, but I made one mistake. The design I gave the artist wasn't very beautiful. I chose it in a rush, when I was frankly very deep into a bipolar hypomanic episode. What's worse, it had a connection to my former abuser. Now, I don't regret getting a tattoo. What I regretted was getting an ugly one that reminded me so much of him.
That was a long time ago. I've forgiven him. In fact, we spoke recently. Once again, he asked my pardon. I forgave him a long time, but I told him he was free, and please, to move on with his life. I don't think about those bad times anymore. I have a new life filled with love, and it's been that way for along time. All really is forgiven. All is well with my soul. There was no need for him to torment himself.
It's true. All really is well, and I wanted to integrate new symbols of faith more deeply into my life that reflect some of that, while acknowledging what I've been through, still. It wouldn't hurt to cover that ugly tattoo, either. So, after giving it a lot of thought, I asked my budding tattoo artist husband to place the Sacred Heart of Jesus over the lotus flower. Jesus is so much bigger than that unfortunate time in my life, and His heart has stayed connected to mine, even when I didn't realize it.
Ken made a sketch, which of course he veered away from, but that's okay. One of the things he did was add dogwood flowers that crept up my shoulder. Did you ever hear the legend of the dogwood tree lovies? Here it is. Of course I got this off the net. :D
There Is A Legend
At the time of Crucifixion the dogwood had been the size of the oak and other forest trees. So firm and strong was the tree that it was chosen as the timber for the cross. To be used thus for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the tree, and Jesus nailed upon it, sensed this.
In His gentle pity for all sorrow and suffering Jesus said to the tree:
" Because of your regret and pity for My suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. Henceforth it shall be slender and bent and twisted and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross--two long and two short petals. And in the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see it will remember."
I love it. This makes me cry. I've suffered so much. The blossoms remind me that although I've suffered, including some redemptive suffering with Christ (Col. 1:24), the worst is over. I've shared with Christ, and He's given me grace and His blessing. To be honest, the dogwood reminds me of so much that my breath catches just to think of all of it. One of my favorite writers has a dogwood blossom tat. She showed it to me last year at a festival. She was all of seventy when she got it, which just goes to show you, it's never too late to do something ridiculously redemptive. And artful.
So, without further ado, here is my tattoo:
Ain't it dreamy?
Here's another view:
The color ink Ken has (it came with his kit) didn't work so well, so we'll finish the coloring when we buy better quality ink, but this tattoo is so freakin' amazing to me. See the crown of thorns around the heart? The cross shaped flowers? The FIRE!? I've had part of this tat done for weeks, but tonight I got my fire (rhymes with mair), and I feel it with everything in me. I'm warmed by it, and aflame with it. I feel unstoppable tonight!
Jesus' heart is over mine, and ever shall be. He is protecting the lotus that lies beneath.
I'm so happy I can hardly stand it.