I’ve really had a lot of people come up and ask me about my tattoos…I’ve mentioned them at The Diner, and people will whisper to me if they see me out and about and want to see them. Then I mentioned it during my sermon I gave on Mother’s Day and people’s curiosity piqued. They way they approach me is the same way that that muppet on Sesame Street approaches random strangers, looks both ways a couple of times to make sure the coast is clear, then look the prospect in the eye and say under his breath, “Hey, mister. Wanna buy a pen?” Then he opens his coat and shows about 100 pens.

So, if you ever look both ways a couple of times to make sure the coast is clear and ask me to see the tattoos, I’ll roll up my left sleeve and show you this one:

The blue one is Hebrew for Micah 6:8. You can look it up, but it’s especially meaningful to me the order of the list. Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly with your God.

The footprints are from a work of art. The idea is that there’s a problem humanity has simply by being born, and that problem can only be solved by the shedding of blood.

If you look both ways to make sure the coast is clear and ask me what’s under the right sleeve, I’ll show you these:

Kid1’s name with a paintbrush behind it. Kid2’s name (in Disney font–they picked out the fonts, which led to Kid1 asking the question, “Dad, how many kids do you think sit on dafont.com and pick out fonts for their Dad’s tattoos?”) with a ballet shoe underneath it. I’ve had several recommendations for one for Tracy, but nothing so far has been something either of us are terribly excited about.

Then there’s a marlin, which started all this, which my mom suggested I get as a reminder of the relationship she and my father had. Long story, told several times on this blog, but basically, my dad caught a marlin and playfully referred to that day as the best day of his life…a running joke in our family for years.

Now, a couple of things.

First, I’m not recommending you all go out and get tattoos. They are deeply personal to me for a myriad of reasons, and largely they’re reminders to me of what’s truly important…and the reasons they are deeply personal are in response to the events around my life in the last year. In many ways, they’re a response to grief…and I really don’t want to get into all that here or anywhere else. So, I hope you’ll be gentle if you decide to pull me aside and tell me all the reasons tattoos are bad.

Second, I keep them covered up most of the time with long sleeves, which I wear year round. Mostly because of issues of fair skin.

And, finally, if your kid comes up and says they can get a tattoo because I have one, tell them I said FOR THE RECORD they should joyfully obey their parents. I didn’t get one until my mom said it was okay…and I was 41 at that time.

Now you won’t have to come up to me, look both ways to see if the coast is clear and ask to see them…