Growing up, I fancied myself a dancer, a softball player, an ice skater, and a news broadcaster. I would spend hours in our family room, LP’s turned up to the max volume, the only light lit, being a “spot light” ( it was really a reading light that I could adjust), “dancing” or “ice skating” on the linoleum floor ( I know, this was the late 70’s/ early 80’s people, Pergo flooring hadn’t been invented yet, at least for the common folk)….
Or I would spend hours at the softball field with my best friend, vicariously living home run glory and RBI’s through her.
Then again, you could often times find me creating an entire newsroom, in my living room, where I was the formidable reporter, sharing the evening’s eyewitness news with the world ( probably the start of my penchant for “inquisitiveness” as I call it…. my family calls it nosiness…..).
But, of all my illustrious and grand illusions for hobbies, that I created for myself, I actually DID have some hobbies that I was skilled in and taught. I sang in a choir from kindergarten until age 17; played the flute in the school band for five years; played the hand bells in the church choir for six years; and, most consistently, I played the piano from the time I was five years old until now. While my formal lessons stopped at 17, I have continued to play well into adulthood. I was even given a grand piano a few years ago, so I still have the chance to play at home whenever the whim strikes me.
It is this piano/keyboard playing, that led to my next tattoo, the German “beauty for ashes” tattoo. Somewhere along the year 2009, I was asked to play the keyboard for the “modern” service for a small Lutheran church. My first experience with any kind of liturgical, ritualistic worship service, I was exposed to many aspects of my faith that I hadn’t been privy to before. As I researched and studied them, it became a “walk down my German heritage lane” as I liked to call it.
I decided that I wanted to get some kind of tattoo to represent my German heritage, although not a lot of positive German “emblems” came to mind. I didn’t want the Swastika, or anything Neo-Nazi, those wouldn’t work. And the German language is a guttural sounding, “down-to-earth” kind of language, so there weren’t any specific German phrases that I was drawn to ( Weinershnitzel? no. Dachshund? no. Bratwurst? no. Lager? no. Muesli? no. You get the picture…..). So what to get that both represented my furthering journey, my faith, and also my German heritage…….
Right about that time, someone sent me these Bible verses from Isaiah 61, which say,
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
This person encouraged me, saying that God wasn’t finished with my story yet, that God was going to take everything that had been destroyed in my life, and restore it in a far more comprehensible way than I could ever even begin to imagine; that God was working in ways that I couldn’t see, or even begin to be aware of, but that he was raising me up out of devastation and despair. And subsequently, the entirety of the passage above has become my life’s motto.
So I decided to take the words, “beauty for ashes” and where it’s found, Isaiah 61:3, and make that the premise for a small tattoo on my ankle, all because I was awakened to part of my heritage while playing and singing in a little Lutheran church worship band, that summer of my German “Soldier”.