Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:28
Now, I already had two tattoos by the time I found God. I had grown up in the church, I just hadn’t gotten it yet, and likely that had something to do with the fact that my first two were not of naked women or skulls with wings. Also, my mother had made me promise not to get a tattoo until I turned twenty-one (I cheated, but only by a month) and being slightly more mature than the required eighteen likely helped with my choices.
The real kicker is, that despite what the black and white statement is in the Bible, I have yet to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit so strongly as when I got the idea for my first Christian tattoo (the fish on my left bicep). Now there are a lot of rules in the Old Testament that even devout followers no longer adhere to. If you decide to stick to all of them (there’s a guy who did and it really ticked his family off, I wish I could find his blog) you wind up with a life with a severely limited diet, and also cutting out such things as fabric made from two types of fibers (say goodbye to all those poly-cotton shirts). What a lot of people think, is that the OT law was a way for God to set up some standards for healthy living to protect His children the Israelites. If you read it closely, it’s actually a pretty good regimen for staying fit and free from infection and contamination.
But I digress. Jesus said that he didn’t come to do away with the old law, but to fufill it. I’m not going to even begin getting into that idea, except to say that it’s the reason I went ahead with more tattoos after I found my faith. I’m not saying that it’s the right thing for everyone to do, or even for me to do, but I know what I felt when I got that first Christian tat. It may turn out that I was mistaken and I’ll have some explaining to do, but in my case, and for many of my friends, it’s an outward and visible sign of our faith. My ink is a way to show people about my faith in God, without ever saying a word, and occasionally a way to start a conversation.
At any rate, here’s a catalog of my artwork.
First piece: Mackie level meters – inside right calf
Date: June 1997
Reason: Turned pro in the sound business
Second piece: Pocket watch – left shoulder blade
Date: January 1998
Reason: I like pocket watches but don’t find them practical to carry. The time, two minutes to midnight, as a statement on my chronic procrastination, and also my favorite Iron Maiden tune. This is as close as I will ever come to getting a band tattoo.
Third piece: Ichthus (Christian Fish) – left bicep
Date: November 1999
Reason: I had just found my faith for real and wanted to show the world, with flames!
Fourth piece: Dove – right bicep
Date: July 2002
Reason: I had always said that I would commemorate the first band that took me on tour with a tattoo on my right arm. The logo for that band was a shamrock and I wasn’t in to that. But the bus that we renovated and lived in for 22,000 miles was a Bluebird and that was the logo I stole, with flames to match my fish.
Fifth piece: My daughter’s footprint – right shoulder, top
Date: January 25, 2003
Reason: OK, it’s cheesy, but the drummer from Savatage has his kids’ feet on his shoulder. I’m a total copy-cat, but I’m the only one with these particular footprints. It’s her actual footprint, inked on a card at the hospital and driven straight to the shop, as soon as my wife was safely resting.
Sixth piece: My first son’s footprint – right shoulder, middle
Date: July 27, 2005
Reason: Why break with tradition?
Seventh piece: My second son’s footprint – right shoulder, bottom
Date: November November 27, 2006
Reason: Little HB might not be as well documented on film as the previous children (it takes a while to learn how to shoot with a toddler on each ankle), but he’s recorded here permanently. The shot is in the mirror, I didn't forget which shoulder they're on.
Eigth piece: The word “Providence” in Ben Franklin’s handwriting
Reason: I recently read his biography and in addition to being interested in his inventions and accomplishments, it was interesting to see the way his faith developed over his lifetime. I also really like the way the word portrays God’s providing hand.