One year ago, while I was living in Paris, France, I got my second tattoo. My dad has always told me that if I’m going to get tattoos, I should get them while I’m in cool places and different countries. My first one, “beloved” in script on my foot, I got in Lexington, Kentucky. So, I decided to listen to my dad and get a tattoo before I left Paris. I had something in mind that I had wanted for over a year. I had my artist friend design it, found a shop that would do it for a reasonable price, and got my second tattoo done.
I spent a few weeks looking for a tattoo shop that would do it for under 200 euros, which is about $226. I didn’t even want to spend that much, but I also knew that getting a tattoo in Paris was going to be expensive. Meanwhile, I told my artist friend, Anna Renaud, who was with me in Paris about my design idea and she did an excellent job coming up with a design. I am so honored to have her art tattooed on my body. She is an incredible artist, and you should check out her work here! I finally found a newer little tattoo shop called Infernal Tattoo Shop. They were affordable, so helpful and did such a good job. Getting the tattoo was painful at first, but my arm went numb after the first 5 minutes and the last 40 minutes were relatively painless. I had a whole group of friends there with me and it was such a fun experience.
The design that I had been thinking about for a while was a version of the “Perichoresis” symbol. The word perichoresis is a Greek word, περιχώρησις, that refers to the relationship between the three persons of the triune God, or more commonly called, the trinity. How I understand the triune God is not only that the three persons are in community and relationship with each other, but that all humans are included in this relationship. Or, as one of my favorite theologians, Baxter Kruger, says, we are part of “The Great Dance”. Writer and pastor Stephen Barkley explains “The Great Dance” in his review of Kruger’s book of the same name: “Kruger uses the metaphor of dancing…to describe the life of Father, Son and Spirit. This life is woven through creation like a great river. The goal of God is to draw everyone into this river, this dance.” The idea that we are all included in a dance full of love and communion with the trinity is the most hopeful and joyful concept.
“Genuine acceptance removes fear and hiding, and creates freedom to know and be known. In this freedom arises a fellowship and sharing so honest and open and real that the persons involved dwell in one another. There is union without loss of individual identity. When one weeps, the other tastes salt. It is only in the Triune relationship of Father, Son and Spirit that personal relationship of this order exists, and the early Church used the word “perichoresis” to describe it. The good news is that Jesus Christ has drawn us within this relationship and its fullness and life are to be played out in each of us and in all creation.”
–Parable of the Dancing God, Baxter Kruger
I wanted to have this perichoresis symbol on my arm as a reminder that I am included in the Trinitarian dance, the Great Dance. But, I also wanted it to be a reminder that, according to the theological standpoint I am coming from, every human that I come in contact with is also included in this dance and is treasured and loved. The reason that I chose a design that incorporated flowers into the symbol was to represent the idea of life. Flowers are one of my favorite things about nature. To me, flowers are the ultimate symbol of life and being alive. Life is found in the Great Dance, which is why I chose to intertwine the symbol with flowers and leaves. I love how delicate and simple, yet deeply profound and artistic my beautiful tattoo is.
One of my favorite sections from theologian, Baxter Kruger’s, blog is this:
The Father himself set his love upon you before the foundation of the world and predestined you to be adopted into the very Trinitarian life of God. And his own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, has come and accomplished his Father’s dreams for you and the human race. And even now the Holy Spirit is bearing witness with your spirit that this is the truth.
–essay Why I Left Calvinism Behind, Baxter Kruger
A year later, this tattoo still means so much to me. It’s something that I see every day and I remember that I am alive and loved by the Triune God and I am included in The Great Dance.