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Blessed are those who find wisdom,  those who gain understanding,  for she is more profitable than silver  and yields better returns than gold.  She is more precious than rubies;  nothing you desire can compare with her.  Long life is in her right hand;  in her left hand are riches and honor.  Her ways are pleasant ways,  and all her paths are peace.  She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;  those who hold her fast will be blessed.

Prov 3:13-18

It was the celtic Tree of Life I had settled on when deciding on my next and probably last tattoo. I held to this notion of embracing the lost part of us, the part we were made for, the part we had turned away from in the garden. I held to this notion that somehow representing this on my body would help remind me of the daily turning away from death, the daily turning toward the life offered. I wanted blue flowers, for the Theotokos. I wanted the symbol of the Trinity.

As the artist worked on my shoulder for those 3 hours I prayed the Jesus Prayer to get through the initial pain. The artist and I talked about politics and about childbirth and then about religion. She was a former Catholic too, but she was still very hurt by her experience. She asked about my becoming Orthodox and I told her what I felt I could say with some integrity, about the struggle, about my reasons for pursuing it. She asked why anyone would need to believe in any God. She asked why anyone would need to believe that Jesus was more than just another human with some good ideas but she wasn’t really asking. She was telling and so I was listening.

Then she stopped herself abruptly and changed the subject.

When we were done she apologized. She said, “I guess I get cranky about religion.” I said, “Maybe we all get cranky about religion. Maybe that’s important.” and then I told her I was fine and that she should feel how she feels. She thanked me, she was relieved she hadn’t offended me and then I was back at the Tree of Life, choosing to take the fruit of this tree, Wisdom. The other tree promises only injury- without hope, without healing. I’ll take the Tree of Life.

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©2021 by Angela Doll Carlson