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Why Markings and Tattoos Can Actually Be an Aid to Prayer, Love, and Memory

Tattoos

The eternal God, who forgets nothing, calls us with binding address to remember. "Do this in remembrance of me."

I need symbols to focus my awareness on what matters. Cellular telephone alerts do not suffice. Despite my bibliographical and philosophical memory, I am a forgetful man.

On Ash Wednesday, we have ashes rubbed into our forehead so we can remember. In Advent, we light candles to remember. Since we are to pray for one another, we need to remember to pray for one another. "Pray without ceasing," says the Apostle.

This summer, as I agonized in sympathy for an earnest and betrayed sister in Christ, I took out a sharpie and made a large cross on my inner calf. I added rays coming from it. As it faded, I re-inked it several times.

When I walked into a mountain restaurant, several teenagers laughed at me. I wondered why for a split second, but then I realized. Since I had shorts on, they could see my sharpie cross—and I did not care. I remembered again.

Whenever I saw my sharpie cross on my skin, I was first a bit surprised, but then I remembered to suffer with and pray for. It later faded out and was not re-inked. But my friend is not forgotten. I may ink up for her again.

A few days ago, I was talking to another suffering soul. I saw my inner calf and my sharpie. I made a large cross and a small one underneath it. I re-inked yesterday. She came through surgery with a good report so far. When I see it, I remember and pray.

These are temporary, sacred tattoos—aids to prayer, love, and memory. May the Cross be ever before us.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., is Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary, where he has served since 1993. He is the author of thirteen books, including Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith, Philosophy in Seven Sentences, and, most recently, Walking Through Twilight: A Wife's Illness--A Philosopher's Lament.

Keep up with him at https://douglasgroothuis.com

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