Sunday, January 26, 2014

inked and unfolded

{photo by Rachel}
I want to unfold. let nothing in me hold itself closed. 
for where I am closed, I am false. 
I want to be clear in your sight.
:: Rilke 

every time I get a new tattoo, people ask me why. in fact, it's become such a habitual thing that I immediately start to consider my why the second my body touches the artist's table. it's a holy experience for me, stepping from the wide open outdoors into the small shops with needles on the tables and art in its own right covering walls and bodies. 

on Friday, as I leaned back on the table with the leg of my jeans rolled up and the buzzing of the gun in my ears ringing like a holy chant, I could feel the reason, the why flowing through my soul like electricity. 

I get tattoos so that I never forget and so that I can never hide again. especially this one.

I've hit that point in my life where I'm actually willing to be transparent. actually, if I'm honest, I'm less willing to be this open as I am realizing that I am meant to be splayed wide, visible for all to see. 

it's a strange sort of untucking

some of it is smooth and easy, the way that skillful hands fold and refold and unfold crinkled paper to form a crane. most is awkward, a dissecting, a flailing akin to the way the fitted sheet pops off the corner of the mattress when tossing and turning and nightmares cling tighter than sleep. it's not as graceful as I'd like you to think, less ornamental and tidy than my carefully placed words might lead you to believe. 

the new words on my skin read simple and smooth :: we are all stories in the end. there's a reason I got these words, this quote from my favourite television show of all time {Doctor Who}. because my life is stories, everything about it and every aspect of me. I have steeped myself in stories, my story
{photo by Rachel}
and her story and our stories all merged together. it's something I can't avoid anymore. it's something that has followed me forever. 

but that's why I get tattoos. that's why I walk again and again into the place thick with the scent of ink and cigarette smoke and something else, something rising like sacred incense from the Holiest Place toward Heaven. it's wafting out through the tear in the curtain. it's a thin place, where the Lion's roar is clearer and His breath smells sweeter still. 

because if it's there, permanent, on my skin, I can never shrug it off and leave it on the side of the road. even when I get scared. 

these marks on my skin, this new one in particular, are my Ebeneezer stone. my place of help, my flesh-guides to remind me that I am called, that I am not hidden. I am unfolding, one smooth piece and one awkward flail at a time. and each of these marks are helping me remember. 

I am clear in Your sight. 

{inspired by a Story Sessions prompt. join us? there's always room for you here with us}


  1. what a cool tattoo...i love it rachel...we are all stories just waiting to be shared....
    rock the art...and always remember

  2. This is deep. Makes me consider my own thoughts about getting a tattoo (I've wanted one for awhile) -- what is my why? Because marking our bodies is not something to be taken lightly, I think.

  3. A beautiful reminder to wear every day, Rachel. I have a friend who fights a chronic illness who had the words "stay strong" tattooed on her wrist. Those words sure helped her when she was going through a difficult time. I like yours too, and the way you've described this entire experience. Lovely.


I look at you and see all the ways a soul can bruise, and I wish I could sink my hands into your flesh and light lanterns along your spine so you know there's nothing but light when I see you. :: Shinji Moon