Today is Mother's Day. The youth led worship, we honored mothers and graduates. The sermon included a live painting as a literal illustration. Fun was had by all! My mother was in town, and I'm glad she got to see it. Afterwards we all went out for lunch. I wear a collar in worship, and I have to admit that it's always weird wearing it in public. For one, I don't normally wear it outside of worship. For another, I get a lot of stares. Especially when I am out with my family. Every now and again I get addressed as "Father." It's an odd mix between being in a position of undeniable faith expression and feeling like a representative of a cultic practice that is disconnected with real life. What I mean by that is that we separate life and faith in our culture. When people see a priest in the public sector (or a man in a collar with a family) they either don't know how to act, or (worse yet) they know exactly the prescriptive responses to offer to appear like they are part of the club. The same thing happens with the religious jargon that becomes popular for a time and fades away. Sadly it is difficult sometimes to have a conversation where faith can simply be expressed without the need for pretext or definition.
But that's not what I'm here to talk about. I'm here to talk about tattoos. I've wanted one for sometime, but I've never wanted to pay what a good one costs. A tattoo is not something you want done cheaply. Anyway, I'm in Starbucks waiting for a drink for my wife and I. The person before me has ornate, thick, black lined tattoos covering both arms and a few on his hands. He is mid 30's, has a British punk band t-shirt, and is of European dissent. The artwork looked like a mash up of polynesian tribal and celtic designs. We were both waiting for our drug of choice, and so I complimented him. I got a noncommittal "Thanks." He was obviously not interested in talking to the priestly type. I didn't want to pester, but I took it as a challenge to at least interact on some level. I talked to him about my interest, turns out he is a tattoo artist with a shop right down the street from my house. I got mostly yes/no answers, except for one interesting jewel. After telling me that it took about 12 hrs total to get both arms done, I asked if it really hurt as much as they say. He shrugged and said, "It's not that big a deal if it's something you want."
I was expecting something more sarcastic than that, or maybe something more sinister. But that's it, huh? How much do I wine and complain about the opportunities that present themselves in my life? Quite a bit, apparently. 12 hours of gouging areas of skin that contain little more than muscle and nerve, and it's not a big deal if it's something you want.
I got up at 5:30 a.m. this morning to be ready and make final preparations for worship today. I'm not bragging or complaining, but I did struggle with being thankful for the opportunity of it. Paul says that all his suffering he counted as nothing in comparison to the grace of Jesus Christ. It's not that big of a deal, suffering that is, if it opens the door to understanding God's grace. That's a tough sell when you are in the thick of it, but in hind sight it has been true every time. I think I'm going to go "get in the pit and try to love someone." For those who didn't get that, it refers to a line from a song by Kid Rock. The "pit" is a mosh pit where kids slam dance against one another. Life is like that. We bump into each other's junk. Most of the time we try to keep away from each other or pretend that we aren't effected by each other. Love expects something more. Life and faith are messy. They aren't the separate entities we want them to be. Let's mix it up!