A Tattoo And a Philosophy

We have been thinking about getting tattoos.

I always felt like a tattoo needed to be not only symbolic, but also sort of commemeratory and up until now I never felt like I had just the right thing that I wanted to symbolze and memorialize on my body for the rest of my life.

This past year however, has brought us the most challenging and life effecting thing we have ever faced – Bryan’s cancer diagnosis. A tattoo suddenly seems very fitting and appropriate. This year has changed us and I want a symbol of that.

When we got married we got wedding rings to tell the world about how we had changed. When we had a kid, well, we got a kid to show that change (not to mention stretch marks, puffy eye circles from lack of sleep, a whole slue of accessories and toys, and now a minivan). Bryan’s cancer diagnosis has been as life changing as those events for me and it seems fitting to have something to symbolize our feelings about it and what we are learning through it.

We have been talking about a lot of different ideas, and I have of course been searching pinterest for inspiration. But, of the things that we’ve talked about there’s one that I keep coming back to, one that sticks in my head and just seems to fit.

a simple symbol…the ampersand…

&

It’s a beautiful literary device that I have always been drawn to, but recently even more so.

I read something this week claiming that the essence of theological language is in the prepositions – in, of, with, to…and. I think that you could say that the heart of life is found in the prepositions – those things which place us in relation to something else.

When we live in the AND we live firmly in the life of abundance. AND is a word of abundance and continuation. & is a symbol of that abundance and continuation. A symbol that says that the sentence, the thought, the idea, the essence isn’t over; it continues. Not only does it continue but something is added to it, it increases, it expands, it extends.

AND is also a word of connection. & is a symbol of connection. It connects two (or more) things and tells us that these things are related, are connected, and belong together.

You & me

Bryan & Bethany

Us & our children

& our family, & our friends, & our community, & our God.

This year, this season, this experience & many more to come.

AND also acknowledges that we are more than we appear, we are one thing AND another. We are made of dust AND the breath of GOD. I am a wife & a mother. A daughter & a friend. A writer & a terrible speller. A creative & the doer of the laundry day after day after day. I am what I was in the past & what I am now & what I will be in the future – I am made up of glimpses of all of these things.

Together, Bryan & I are cancer fighters, waging a war against his melanoma AND we are so much more than that too.

We fight cancer AND we live our lives. Bryan recently pointed out this verse in Ecclessiastes to me and it has quickly become a bit of a theme for us:

“Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”

When living in the AND we keep living our lives. We keep planting AND reaping. We keep moving forward AND pressing on.

& symbolizes all that to me.

It tells me that this isn’t the end of the story, this isn’t an OR, a period, or a exclamation point, this is an AND. The life God offers us, the abundant life of Christ is an AND. It’s an invitation into a relationship, us & God, that leads to a new connection between us & the world, AND gives us an eternal continuity of abundance that starts today.

The more I processed the idea of an ampersand tattoo over the past few weeks the more I liked it. I thought it was fairly original and unique and captured so much of what I want to remember and be about.

But, then today I decided to look for some more specific inspiration on Pinterest and searched for “ampersand tattoos”. I was kind of surprised by how many I found. I guess it’s not as unique an idea as I thought it was. One pinner made a comment about it being way hipster to get an ampersand tattoo. Suddenly it seemed slightly less appealing for a moment. But, as I looked at more and more ampersand tattoos I also found that I still really liked them, part of me didn’t want to still like it because it did seem so common, but I did.

And as I’ve thought about it more I think the fact that lots of others have “&” tattoos almost adds to the idea…

Us & so many others.

We are unique AND we are common.

We will sit with it for a little while, sit with our & to see if it is really what we want to symbolize this season, to see if it’s really something we want permanently on our bodies, but as of right now I’m liking it.

Us & the abundant life of our God

Us & whatever comes

AND…

Rejoicing in the journey,
Bethany

 

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