Shocking revelation here: I'm not really a tattoo person. (I have a theory that tattoos and tea are, on a some fundamental level, deeply incompatible). I don't have a tattoo, don't plan to get one, and have asked Nate to please be tattoo free when he leaves the Army. Other people get them; fine. I don't have much use for them.
So, when the tattooed couple entered the pool for family swim last week, I proceeded to compose their story in my head. They probably met in a bar, were a little wild, and have only settled down now that they have a child, the cute 3 year old who immediately joined my children in the shallow end. Both the man and woman had several tattoos on legs, arms, and back. Because there were hardly any other people there, and because I'm nosy, I covertly glanced over at the tattoos. Yep, indecipherable Japanese or Chinese characters, some butterfly thing, etc. Pretty typical. He also had a face tattooed on the upper chest, and I tried to make out who it was. His favorite singer? A movie star? The man turned, and I could see the tattoo clearly. It was a picture of Christ, with "King of Kings" written underneath it.
I glanced quickly at his wife, and now saw that her arm sported a tatoo: a cross with sunrise behind it, and underneath, the word "Hope."
Christians get tattoos. I know this. Some family members have them. But I was unprepared for how moved I felt by seeing such a tattoo in this context. Right away, my picture of them changed. Maybe they did meet in a bar, maybe they were wild. Perhaps they also enjoy body art, and play guitar or drums in a house church.
I found myself watching them more carefully. Would their behavior mirror the inked message? They were gentle with their son. They shared their pool toys with my children. They talked to each other with quiet enthusiasm and humor. They were not ashamed to show their spiritual allegiance in word and deed.
The whole experience was a little grace note, right there in the pool. My quick and easy stereotypes took a knock. As our family splashed and played, my eyes kept straying to those images again and again: "King of Kings. "Hope." I left feeling more uplifted, and all because of a tatto.