Wednesday, August 11, 2010
As Katie and I near our time of departure from Seattle, we are both spending lots of time reflecting on how we’ve grown over the last year. I’d like to post a blog at some point on the things we’ve learned and ways we’ve changed. But this post is about our parting presents from Seattle. What would be more quintessential as a symbol of our time in the Pacific Northwest than a tattoo? An icon of an alternative zeitgeist. A piece of art meaningful in numerous ways.
First, tattoos have been present in my work at the Veterans Hospital. I have had several sessions with Vets where their tattoos served as focal points of our therapy: pieces of themselves visually represented on their bodies. In fact, I was able to show one of my patients my tattoo as a way of revealing a small part of myself, a gift in kind for how open he has been with me. And a parting gift given at the end of our therapeutic relationship.
Next, the tree is a symbol of life. Trees play a very central role in the stories of the Bible. The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. Christ is crucified on a tree to draw us into an intimate relationship with Him. And trees are often symbols of how a follower of Jesus lives life: producing fruit (aka. love, joy, peace, mercy), strong and with deep roots. So the trunk of my tree is knotty and gnarled and twisting. Its full of scars and ugliness and imperfections. But it’s also strong. It’s stood the test of time and trials. It also starts off growing away from the light source, trying to make it without the Sun, without God. But then as it turns and starts to bend toward the source of energy, full foliage appears. Beautiful groups of leaves supported by the strong trunk and of course the deep roots. Those roots symbolize the importance of community and need for people’s support through prayer, encouragement, tangibles, etc. And so everything you don’t see in this tattoo, the sun and soil and air, all symbolize my faith. Not easily seen with the senses but the entire life source of my being. You never see the sun but you see the effects of the sun by looking closely at the juxtaposition of light and dark within the same tree.
Finally, this is a family tree. Katie’s name is unfurled in a scroll in the roots. Those roots are so intertwined with the scroll that the two are inseparable. Katie is a huge part of my foundation and created harmony and stability when she entered my life. I also love the use of a scroll because as a kid I loved ancient stories of adventure, which were of course always written on scrolls and parchment. These last few months Katie and I have been embarking on written exercises designed to spark our dreams and envision pathways to that future. It’s been incredibly exciting and I can’t wait to watch as stories continue to unfold in this next year. Just as the top of the tree is leaning in, Katie and I are leaning into our future. Not just settling for whatever comes our way or passively accepting life, but instead actively planning and pursuing God’s will for our lives. Also, I’ve left room between the roots and the branches for a banner. This banner will one day have the names of our kids tattooed on it. It’ll be floating in the air and wrapped around the backside of the trunk. Here I turn to a scripture from Song of Solomon, a great love poem from the Old Testament. “Your banner over me is love.” Katie and I can’t wait to love our children with the same unconditional love we have for each other, which is the same love Christ has for us.
Stay tuned to learn about Katie’s tattoo. To learn about Josh’s tattoo check out his blog at www.meetsthesea.blogspot.com . And my buddy Andy got the rod and staff of a shepherd from Psalm 23, which are tools used to protect and guide. A key aspect of his life as a husband and parent.
Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:54 PM