Mary, Meet Myrine: My Second Tattoo, The Goodness Of The Word And Of The World, And Fleshy, Incarnate Grace
So in my last blog, I revealed my first tattoo.
This blog, I am revealing my second and also very much my last tattoo.
People tell me that I’ll come to feel differently about it, but nope: I said what I said.
This will do it, though I’m bracing myself for the few planned touch ups to this latest one.
Tattoos remind my of my late mother, who, as we pulled in to a station to fill up the car, would say, “I hate getting gas, I love having gotten gas.”
Cars need gas, though, and I don’t need another tattoo.
But I did want/need this one.
This delightful woman rests on my right arm: Mary sings her Magnificat on my left because the tattoo artist refused, although not in so many words, to have her facing backwards as the artist Ben Wildflower drew her. The flow of the tattoo is intended to go with the flow of the body, I’m told, and so Mary is on my left and the dancing woman on my right, each facing forward, as most of the time I (try to) do too.
Turns out that she has a name, and a story: Myrine is her name, and her counterpart, seen from the backside in the second of Wiinblad’s sketches linked above, is Kleonike.
Apparently Wiinblad took his inspiration for these drawings from the Greek comedy Lysistrata, an ancient play which tells of women who revolted against their husbands who had long been battling it out in the Peloponnesian War.
The women on all sides were over the extended battle, and so banded together across factions to ban their men from their bodies and from sex—a pastime which both the women and men very much enjoyed—until the warring soldiers called a truce.
I swear I did not know this history when I opted for this tattoo.
What I did know is that I love Bjorn Wiinblad.
I have candle holders and posters of his art on my walls, and the logo for the Spent Dandelion (designed by the amazing graphic artist Heidi Mihelich, whom you should use for all your logo needs) takes inspiration from his art too. (After I showed her some of his art while we were trying to hone in on the logo vibe, she joked that I now had to pay an upcharge to fund her Bjorn Wiinblad habit. You can see his influence in the whimsical dots found on the dandelion!).
This particular work captured my imagination because of Myrine’s rounded hips and breasts and belly and thighs; she’s sensual and sexual without being reduced to that; she’s playful and beautiful and confident; she loves life in all its color and delight.
I am some of that and wish I were more of all of that, and so Myrine represents a reminder of what I am and what, with some practice and re-prioritizing, I could even more so be.
Those of you who have been following me for a spell know that I understand the gospel to be the announcement that Jesus is risen.
Perhaps Easter seems an odd reference to make on Advent Four/Almost Christmas Eve, but when you get right down to it, it isn’t, so very much.
The Gospel announces that death has a word, but it is not the last one.
As an obvious extension of that, Christians believe that God:
~is the God who brings life out of death;
~offers beauty where there is bleakness;
~rejoices when there is abundance for all;
~called creation into being not with a monotone palette but with vibrant hues;
~creates tunes and beats and rhythms of music of wild and wide variety;
~summoned into being foods and flavors that may include bland, but also delights in the spicy and buttery and sweet and tart, with juices and oils and gravies and creams and beverages that make the tongue and the spirit sing;
~is fleshy. God arrived as a baby, burping and farting and crying and growing and defying his parents and loving good food and good wine and good humor and good snark and inviting people to feast and find safety and forgiveness and radical welcome extended to all.
It’s all so ridiculously glorious: tangible, edible, visual, audible, celebratory, gratuitous grace.
Now, I realize that there is so very much in the world, especially these days, which give powerful reason for despair and righteous rage.
Every day I watch the news, and/or write letters, and/or give money, and/or blog or post or speak or simply cry with the weight of it all.
I can never do enough, but there is always so much to do.
Mary on my other arm knows of that truth.
She calls us to stand defiantly with her against all that threatens, undercuts, and maligns the will and the ways of God, and to invariably stand with the oppressed, to harbor unwavering hope that the oppressors will be open to redemption, and to actively work against them when they are intransigently against mercy, generosity, humility, welcome, justice, and kindness—a stance which, of course, in the end even harms themselves.
But Myrine reminds us that we can protest death in more than one way.
We can protest it by joyfully defying it.
We can embrace the goodness that God has made—and made known—for us, we can embrace the bodies that are ours, we can embrace each other, and we can share and welcome others to the whole lot of it all as a way of celebrating, thanking, telling of, and making incarnate the God who loves life and the richness of it all.
I love being “balanced” by Mary on my left and Myrine on my right: defiance and joy; hope and gratitude; restlessness and contentment; action and rest, each representing something of the woven reality of living into and out of the Gospel, and illustrating women’s complexity, strength, wisdom, power, and beauty.
Today is a trifecta: we are wrapping up Advent Three, which is traditionally designated to lift up the theme of joy.
We are entering into an awkward handful of hours of Advent Four, a time set aside to especially treasure the notion of love.
Then, this evening and for the next 12 Days of Christmas, we collectively cherish the notion of God With Us, Emmanuel Who Has Come, Jesus the Christ, the Prince of Peace.
Joy. Love. Peace.
The baby Jesus came into the world by way of blood and tears, as well as welcome and wonder.
He arrived as the heavens showed off and ragtag shepherds showed up.
He was awaited by a ruthless paranoid ruler and those who enacted the violence the ruler condoned and incited.
Hope, cynicism, fear, comfort, fatigue, courage…it was all there, just as it is today.
Today, it’s still all true.
Nobody knows that more than Mary.
But Myrine has a word for us too: whimsy, sensuality, beauty, delight…these are all pieces of God’s intentions too.
To forget, overlook, set aside such things, even if for righteous reasons, is to forget or overlook or set aside that God loves the world, and the world is fleshy, worthy of love, and is lovable.
I think that today is especially a day to lean into the fleshiness of Myrine.
God loves the world.
The word became flesh.
God loves the fleshiness of the world.
We are fleshy.
So, given that, let us rejoice, and let us be glad in it!
May the joy of Advent Three, the love of Advent Four, and the peace of Emmanuel, Jesus the Christ, be with you all!