I had a tattoo. When my closest friends’ shoulders, forearms and hands were “inked,” I followed. The red, white and blue of the heart-shaped U.S. flag were vibrant on my arm, and high enough that a T-shirt sleeve concealed them.
Getting a tattoo, even with my low pain tolerance, wasn’t bad; removing it felt like slowly peeling off a Band-Aid. I pulled strips of faded stickiness off along with the hairs on my arm, and then used a rough rag to rub off the rest. I sported many tattoos – even one on my cheek.
But I draw the line at this temporary, decal-type tattoo, sold in a machine for 25 cents at the Kmart exit; that’s as far as I can go.
I’m even too chicken to get a tattoo using Henna, a coloring made from a plant that leaves a reddish-brown tint on skin for about three weeks. I’ve thought about it during spring break trips – souvenir shops lured me in with pictures of unique designs that would simply begin to fade with every shower I took. Even that is too permanent for me.
Eventually, my peers turned 18 and got “real” tattoos – where pigments are injected into the skin. Using needles. They paid to have someone stick a needle into their skin; I would pay someone to get me out of a scheduled tetanus shot.
I didn’t need to read the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s list of risks associated with getting a tattoo – infection, allergic reactions, removal problems, MRI complications, etc. – to know that my faith is best tattooed on my heart rather than permanently inscribed on my body. But people get tattooed for different reasons, including faith.
Ricardo shares more about this in “When faith & ink link,” and Fr. Jerry Herda explains what the church has to say about Catholics getting tattoos.
This issue of myfaith has a wide range of article topics, from Cor Jesu community nights that started during the summer to tips for coping with loss after suicide.
When it comes to “ink,” we hope you enjoy how we used it on the pages of this issue – Enjoy!