"There are some things one can only believe singing," author Lauren Winner told our small writing group. We were gathered in a large, sunny room at Laity Lodge, perched above the prettiest spot on the Rio Frio River in the Texas Hill Country.
As a worship leader, I found that the idea took root with me as I turned the phrase over in my mind. Winner moved on to the next matter, work-shopping another essay, but I was struck.
The phrase came to me again last month when my friend, artist Scott Erickson, told me about his Lenten-theme project for the congregation we serve, Ecclesia Church in Houston. He had designed a series of 10 tattoos representing the 14 traditional Stations of the Cross, and was asking volunteers to tattoo them to their bodies, as a way of observing the 40 days leading up to Good Friday.
Ecclesia is not a typical church: Not only do we have an "artist-in-residence," the aforementioned Scott Erickson, but about half the congregation is already tattooed, says pastor Chris Seay. This year, instead of the annual Lenten art show, the inked congregants would become the Stations of the Cross, and stand in the gallery spaces where paintings or photographs would normally appear.
I didn't have a tattoo when I joined Ecclesia's staff. I grew up in a Jewish home, albeit a nonreligious one, and my brother often reminded me that if I had a tattoo, I couldn't be buried in a Jewish cemetery. I wasn't very Jewish in life, so I'm not sure what made me think I would suddenly become Jewish in death, but nonetheless I shuddered every time we drove past Mt. Hebron Cemetery in Queens. New York's largest Jewish cemetery, it's an endless sea of headstones, jutting out of the landscape like broken teeth. I don't know if my brother was ...1
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