Monday, August 12, 2013

getting a tattoo

Yesterday, my younger son left the house to accompany a friend to the tattoo parlor.

His friend, as my son described it later, wanted and received a Bible verse tattooed along his rib cage.

Other late-teenage friends had done the same, my son said. ... Bible verses. My son himself has had the word "faith" tattooed along his left tricep ... in Fraktur/Gothic, a type face that looks more biblical, I suppose.

Neither my son nor any of his friends, as far as I know, are Sunday-go-to-meetin' Christians. But they are at an age when the matter of assured authority is very attractive. If you're not quite sure of how to be a grown-up, of how to be at ease in a world that is wider than the certainties of childhood ... well, reassurances are the next best thing.

Tattooed Bible verses feels a bit fanatical to me, but I don't suppose it's any more fanatical than I was during a childhood stage of spiritual interests. True, I didn't get a tattoo, but I read a lot of books and learned to talk the talk.

Talking the talk ... possibly with the imposing and slightly magical certainty of Fraktur. If Christian texts are illuminated, why not this body? Why not this mind? Look Ma, I know what I'm doing!

I chewed my cud lazily over this latest adventure of my son. Tattoos are a bit show-offy for my taste, portraying as they seem to the very fragile opposite of the certainty that they, like designer clothing with the label on the chest, seek to avert. But who is not fragile in one way or another? My tattoos are just on the inside, lingering and sometimes irritating reminders of an earlier, more flashy, time. Old prayers, new day.

And one of my old skin-tight prayers, one learned in a more fragile time and yet lingering unchallenged within because it still makes sense to me ... it comes from the Hindus...
Love and charity towards all beings,
Contentment under all circumstances,
Control of the senses and passions --
The practice of these virtues leads to God.
I seldom do the "God" line and I am not sure that I agree with the word "control," but on the whole, it's close enough for folk singing when it comes to tattooed reminders.

Maybe now I should consider getting a heart with a dagger through it -- you know, the one that is embossed with the word, "Mom." It's not my style, but it makes me smile -- and shudder -- to think about it.

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