I have decided the four most dismissive and frustrating words in the English language are "You can't possibly understand."
My mother, who suffers from chronic pain recently, calls me on the phone because she's hurting. I try to be sympathetic. I say, "I know you're in a great deal of pain," and BLAMMO! I'm cut off at the knees.
"You can't possibly understand the kind of pain I'm feeling."
At this point, I am always thinking, "What am I supposed to say at this point? What can I possibly say? Anything I say will not be good enough. If that's how you're going to be, then why the hell did YOU call me? How can I even show I care when you dismiss my care right from the get-go? Screw it, then."
In an attempt not to take it personally, I remind myself, "This is not about me. This is about her pain. This is just transference from the pain onto me, the handy object." But it's still hard...and frustrating...and at times my response is "Oh, the hell with it."
This week, while cruising the blogosphere and following dialog with the locals, I find I'm having the exact same feelings about the upshot of the Bishops' statement in New Orleans in their attempt to define things for the Anglican Communion. Worse yet, it feels that way from all sides.
My take on the statement was "Big deal, so what." I had suspected from the get-go that 1) the HOB was going to give the AC a "non-answer" about their demands since the AC has no authority over the ECUSA, and 2) their answer would please no one--not the righty bishops, not the AC, not the GLBT crowd, not the left end of the ECUSA, because in order to deal with the AC, their answer HAD to be a non-answer. I was right on both counts.
I was okay with a non-answer. It's my opinion that what we doctrinally do in the ECUSA is not much of the AC's business. We can't force the right to fall in line with inclusivity, we can only influence over time. They can't dictate to an autonomous body. It's also my opinion that truly full inclusivity in the GLBT sense is still a ways off, until more individual attitudes are changed. We're not talking about what I wish, we're talking about "just the facts." But ECUSA is ahead of the curve, and I don't see the statement as a step backwards (BO33 from the 2006 General Convention is there, like it or not, at least until 2009.) The right wing bishops wanted to free Barabbus and hand them Gene Robinson for crucifixion, but that didn't happen.
But what I find so horribly frustrating is I am surrounded by "You can't possibly understand." I lurk a lot of sites, post on very few. The extreme right leaning crowd, frankly, is going to walk no matter what is said. There is no point discussing why I believe in full inclusivity in the church for GLBT folks to them, they have written me off as an apostate (Ok, I secretly like being an apostate, but that's another story.) But the part that hurts is that there is also no point in me throwing my .02 worth to certain GLBT folks I know who are hurting terribly and feel like the Bishops' statement was a sellout, either, because the tone of their posts told me that anything I say, because my take was not exactly the same as theirs on the Bishops' statment.
I followed and lurked along with a LOT of pain on both the OasisMissouri group and the Anglican GLBT group. Some GLBT folk are so hurt, they are talking about leaving the church. Some have made animal blessings the target of their anger ("the church authorizes animal blessings but not same sex couples.") One poster even went so far as suggest that straight people in the congregation simply see GLBT's as "their little exotic pets" so they can look cool and pretend to be inclusive. I could see that nothing I could say in an attempt to empathize would be enough. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. I was doomed to get "You can't possibly understand, you're straight."
It is not rocket science to realize this is anger that is being directed at the "handy objects"--local clergy and local fellow congregants instead of the real bad guys. Well, DUH, of course I can't totally understand, but I can get a good enough idea of the pain, to realize we still need work on "inclusivity." I would just once, though, like to not get "you can't possibly understand" when I am trying to be there to share someone's pain on this issue, and not have my head chewed off when I don't agree on every single point about the speed (or lack of) that this happens.
Sorry for being so negatively wound up, but we all need to just chill, and meanwhile, love each other the way God intended-- to love the image of God within the person inside of all those layers, who is not constrained by gender, or orientation, or looks, or opinions.
I have decided the four most dismissive and frustrating words in the English language are "You can't possibly understand."
Guess what? Another cousin of mine has a serious life problem. This time it is my cousin whom I'll call Dee. Dee's husband (whom I'll call Mickey) has been struggling with some serious alcohol problems. This time he's really FUBAR'ed it. Basically, alcohol has cost his job, their home and potentially he could lose the ticket to his whole career--his professional license.
As much as love Dee and am good at fixing problems, there is nothing I can do to fix this. Zero zip nada. I can only be there for Dee and her two children. Right now, as far as her husband is concerned, well, I am so furious at Mickey, about all I can do is pray for him. "God, bless Mickey. Change me." (Repeat 1000 times or until my mind loosens up.) I'm afraid if I tried to talk to him I'd end up beaning him with a ball bat. But I tell myself he is simply very ill right now, and I have to accept his alcoholism is simply a serious and chronic illness.
I am finding that although I feel more spiritually grounded than I used to feel, I have trouble trusting that grounding and letting go. I sort of see that I need to develop a confidence in being spiritually grounded, when faced with messy life things that don’t fit in boxes.
I have a feeling the only way you gain that confidence, the “confidence to let go and let God be God” is to simply do it and learn from what shakes out of it. But it’s that business of having the confidence to turn loose those first few times that’s a killer.
Did you ever get to rappel over a building? When I was in college, I took non-obligatory ROTC instead of gym, because I wanted to run around in the woods and rappel off of Science Hall. One of the first things you have to learn to rappel is “trust the rope.” As you go off the side of the building, and your weight gets distributed on the rope, you have the sensation of falling (but you’re really not) until the rope goes taut. Only till then do you realize the rope will hold you. You have to resist putting a death grip on the rope with the hand that is above your head, or you can literally end up upside down or sideways while on the rope. You have the trust your hand behind you you’ve placed on the small of your back as the “brake”. But you have to go off the wall probably five or six times before you really learn to trust it.
That sensation of “falling” is EXACTLY what I am feeling when I attempt to spiritually “let go” with these messy things.
Do I believe in the last two years that I have become more spiritually grounded? Yeah, I do.
Have I learned to accept the feeling of falling and spiritually “trust the rope”? Not quite yet.
I have a intuitive sense that the only way you spiritually learn to trust your “grounding” and not get worked up by the feeling of falling is to continue to let go, and let the confidence come in its own time, as the rope holds you time and time again. You have to resist putting a white knuckled death grip on the rope with your upper hand so as not to let it turn you sideways or upside down and become panicked or disoriented.
I have to let this all play out, and I'm not happy about it. But I am still going to have to close my eyes, grit my teeth, let go, and trust the rope.
15Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3So he told them this parable: 4“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. 8“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Although there are certainly some of the parables in the Gospels that leave me scratching my head and going "Huh?????" (like the one for this upcoming Sunday), this one is a refreshing no-brainer in my world.
Although I don't like to talk about my job on this blog, I will break my own rule for a change. To make a long story short, the most important part of my job is to make sure that "your specimen belongs to you." If you were to have a biopsy, and it was sent to my lab, the absolutely, positively, most important thing that happens is that container with your biopsy and the requisition form are both labeled with your name and patient info, and when the report with the diagnosis of your biopsy is turned out, I have to be 125% confident that the diagnosis is rendered is "your" diagnosis. The "acceptable margin of error" is zero. Period. End of discussion. Render a diagnosis that isn't "yours" and harm comes to you because of it, you can collect the check. That is a res ipso loquitur, no free pass, do not pass go, do not collect $200, medical mistake. Period.
If 99 biopsies come to our lab and one is not labeled correctly, or didn't come with the specimen container, we are not in a position to say, "Oh, no biggie. We're 99% compliant, that's an acceptable error." No way. Our lab is going to call and hunt and dig until we figure out the problem. That is simply because someone had a piece of them removed and is waiting, sometimes very nervously, for the results. The 99 okay ones do not matter, the ONE is just as important.
So I understand perfectly why God searches for the "one lost sheep." I fully comprehend the obsession of it, because in this instance, ONE matters as much as many. That concept is counterintuitive to our society. We have the Star Trek movie attitude about it. (Remember the death of Spock in the second Star Trek feature film? He told Jim his death was okay "because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.") We tend to hold to that notion. We make sacrifices in life because we see the needs of others as outweighing our own "needs of one." We do it all the time and we are taught that it is a good thing to do--and mostly, it is.
Yet, in God's way of doing business, the needs of the one are as equally important as the needs of the many. I don't know about you, but I always have a hard time accepting this. There is a part of me that feels that I am not worthy of so much fuss and bother. That part of my mind tells God, "Oh, go deal with someone who needs Your services more than me; I'll take care of it. I know I could use some attention from you but oh, hell, I'll get by. I don't really deserve it, anyway."
But really, accepting that premise is incongruous with what I would do for others. If someone said, "Oh, don't bother looking for my specimen. It was just a little mole; it didn't look like anything scary for cancer, I just wanted it off so my face would look better," I would not find that an acceptable reason to stop searching for that lost biopsy. So why would I find it acceptable to let God stop looking? Yet there is that part of me that does.
Sometimes, I think it stems from our inability to accept the divine nature in ourselves. We get so steeped in our tendency to see us from the "sinful side of ourselves." Our flaws stand out worse than our good points. Sometimes, I think that the closer we feel to "whole" the bigger our flaws stand out. I think of it like having a nearly complete set of coins in a collector booklet. If I had a nearly complete set of mint state Morgan silver dollars, and lacked one for the complete set, I would not be thinking about the other fine coins in my collection--I would be obsessing over the one coin I lack. Then, even if I HAD the complete set, I would move that obsession to the next level. I would decide which coin in the set is in the relatively "worst shape" and I would improve on it, and on and on we'd go. The obsession to fix the "flaw" overtakes the joy of the beauty of the collection.
But the fact remains--God, even though he has great love of his collection, still has the same obsession we do, he still goes over and above and out of his way to find the one that he lacks. We should accept this and rejoice that we are simply "that special."
I was going to sit down and ponder the parable of the lost sheep this evening, but I got distracted when I visited MadPriest's blog tonight, so I'll have to save my serious discussion of the Gospel for later. The folks there had been discussing tacky funerary things on a couple of posts. Ok, since I'm in kind of a jocular mood, I got distracted.
I have to confess that one of the things I'm going to thank God for in my prayers tonight, is when my life comes to an end, that thanks to the Episcopal Church I'll at least have a dignified funeral. These days, a lot of what passes for "individualized expression" at funerals leaves me cold...or, worse yet, leaves me in stitches.
Don't get me wrong. I think there have been some nice touches to the modern visitation and funeral service. I like how families put up a variety of photographs. I like a eulogy that makes me grin from a fond memory (as long as the speaker keeps it short). But there's a growing trendy tacky aspect to a lot of funerals that detracts from what I see is the "real message"--that we have to look to something beyond this. Obviously, the easy "beyond" for me is the message of Christianity, but this can be taken in a secular sense, too. Even the most devout atheist wants to believe that when they are gone, there is a footprint they've left on the world that has a larger meaning.
Nowhere is this more evident than in "bad funeral poetry." Now, there's always been bad funeral poetry. But in years past it was probably more bad religious poetry; now it's just bad poetry of all varieties. Some bad poems just lend themselves to bad funeral poetry. One that seems to pop up way too often is Ann Taylor's "My Mother":
Who fed me from her gentle breast,
And hush'd me in her arms to rest,
And on my cheek sweet kisses prest?
When sleep forsook my open eye,
Who was it sung sweet hushabye,
And rock'd me that I should not cry?
Who sat and watch'd my infant head,
When sleeping on my cradle bed,
And tears of sweet affection shed?
When pain and sickness made me cry,
Who gaz'd upon my heavy eye,
And wept, for fear that I should die?
Who drest my doll in clothes so gay,
And taught me pretty how to play,
And minded all I had to say?
Who ran to help me when I fell,
And would some pretty story tell,
Or kiss the place to make it well?
Who taught my infant lips to pray,
And love God's holy book and day,
And walk in wisdom's pleasant way?
And can I ever cease to be
Affectionate and kind to thee,
Who wast so very kind to me,
Ah! no, the thought I cannot bear;
And if God please my life to spare,
I hope I shall reward thy care,
When thou art feeble, old, and gray,
My healthy arm shall be thy stay,
And I will soothe thy pains away,
And when I see thee hang thy head,
'Twill be my turn to watch thy bed,
And tears of sweet affection shed,
For God, who lives above the skies,
Would look with vengeance in His eyes,
If I should ever dare despise,
The problem is that every time I hear that poem, my brain responds by reminding me of this poem....
When me prayers were poorly said,
Who tucked me in me widdle bed,
And spanked me till me arse was red?
Who took me from me cozy cot
And put me on an ice-cold pot,
And made me shit when I could not?
And when the morning light would come,
And in me crib me dribble some,
Who'd wipe me tiny widdle bum?
Who would me hair so gently part,
And hug me gently to her heart,
And sometimes squeeze me till I'd fart?
Who looked at me with eyebrows knit,
And nearly had a king size fit,
When in my Sunday pants me shit?
And when at night the bed did squeak,
Me raised me head to have a peek,
Who yelled at me to go to sleep?
I'll never forget the worst episode I had with this poem. The day before I had to go to my own grandmother's funeral, I had to go to a funeral of one of her close contemporaries. The pastor, a Conway Twitty-haired leisure suit Baptist kind of dude, started reciting the Ann Taylor "My Mother" poem. I had to bury my face in my hands to hide my laughter. I peeked over and my mother was doing the same thing. Hell, after all, she was the one who taught it to me when I was a kid!
I am sure the mourners all thought we were contemplating my grandmother's funeral the next day when we were actually contemplating, "Who put me on my widdle pot and made me shit when I could not? Me mudder."
Any clergy who uses that poem in a funeral should be taken out and beaten severely. That's just all there is to it.
Who taught me dirty rhymes so raw,
Their words got stuck inside me craw,
So then at funerals I'd guffaw...
I wanted to tell of one other highlight of my trip to NYC before getting back to Kirksville and the present. Although I didn't do a lot of "tourist things" this trip, I did take a detour to St. Paul's Chapel in Manhattan. Many of you might remember it during the 9/11 tragedy as the spot where many firefighters and rescue workers rested, slept, prayed and contemplated what was going on. It was a spot of solace, virtually untouched, in an area of chaos and confusion.
My visit was on Sept. 9, only two days before the sixth anniversary of 9/11. Several exhibits were sprinkled around the periphery of the sanctuary--the origami figures sent by Japanese schoolchilren, the chasuble covered with police and fire patches, some of the thousands of teddy bears sent not long after the tragedy--tangible gestures of healing from six years ago. Here in the Midwest, we tend to think to ourselves, "They need to get over it," but standing there among all these artifacts and watching the various visitors made me realize how dismissive we are in this regard. New Yorkers so obviously still carry a lot of raw emotion over this event.
Out of all the displays, one caught me in a way no other could. One of the pews had been set aside with a firefighter's jacket draped over one arm and a pair of rubber fire boots sitting beneath it on the floor. This simply display spoke volumes, because it was a scene played many times over as weary firefighters slept beside their jackets and boots in those pews. The backrest of the pew still bore the scrape and scratch marks left from countless rescue workers. This simple display gripped me more viscerally because it could carry the same kind of power a nativity scene does, by having an iconic quality to it--an icon of hope, an icon of the disciplines of faith, an icon of self-sacrificing love.
That trinitarian image of pew, jacket, and boots stuck with me all the way home simply because it was real, rooted in the moment, yet able to transcend six years of time. It was a reminder that when we often rise to our "moments of greatness" in our lives, it is usually not something we planned. We just happened to be there at the time, and we did what had to be done, and it turns out when viewed through the retrospectoscope becomes our finest hour. God so often leads us to our greatest gifts when we are not looking for them. We so often rise to our greatest strengths in the face of when we feel we are about to fold from weariness, doubt, or fear--an amazing concept!
Well, really, I shouldn't be using the Minnesota Lutheran dialect because I was in Queens, NYC, but hey, they're all Lootruns to me, y'know? (Having been raised Missouri Synod Lutheran, I think I can get away with this.)
My absence from the blog was because I went out to Queens to visit one of my many "extended family members", who, for purposes of anonymity, I'll simply call Pastor. (Hey, when I was a kid, I thought that was EVERY Lutheran minister's first name, anyway.) Pastor was an assistant minister at another church in Queens for several years, then took a call to a parish on the other side of the borough three years ago. For purposes of this blog, I'll call her church St. Elsewhere.
The history of St. Elsewhere is very fascinating. It was originally in a German/Swedish neighborhood (many of the stained glass windows and church fixtures have German inscriptions and are dated in the 1910's.) Subsequently, the neighborhood has literally morphed into the most racially diverse zip code in the United States. Pastor's church membership reflects this; I am guessing roughly eight or ten nationalities are represented in the pews on a given Sunday. This, of course, is absolutely fascinating to me, living here in 95% white Kirksville!
But to make a long story short, Pastor, being originally from the Midwest herself, finds it frustrating at times that New Yorkers, whether they are native or immigrant New Yorkers, tend to think repairs always need to be done by "hired help". Her old church could use a lot of "little fix-it work." Her Synod recently paid for a major internal renovation, but this did not include the "little things." In order to encourage her flock that, yes, these little "fix-it" jobs could be done by willing parish volunteers...so she imported a Missourian to come out and do a little handy work in the company of the flock for a short spell.
It was a fun visit. I think the locals found me as "exotic" as I found them. Also, (and I would not say this out loud at Trinity much) I will confess that although I realize that theologically, my mind better fits Anglicanism, there are parts of being Lutheran I really miss. Although I have no love for the theology of the LCMS, had there been an ELCA Lutheran church in Kirksville, I may well have never ended up at Trinity.
Lutherans by and large, sing "prettier hymns." Traditional Episcopal hymns all sound a lot alike to me. They also seem to be a little heavy on sea storms and shipwrecks. Lutherans tend to like hymns by Bach, Handel, etc. Maybe I just grew up liking more "Teutonic worship music." Lutherans also tend to have more sinful food at coffee hour. Coffee hour at Pastor's church is especially delightfully wicked because all the different cultures bring a variety of sinful treats to the table!
But then, on the other hand, I realize there are parts of Lutheranism I don't miss, even in the more liberal ELCA variety. The concept of "Lutheran grace" can get a little heavy sometimes, and since I am a person who has a tendency to beat myself over the head with the "I suck" stick, the one thing I can thank Episcopal theology for is to look a little more at the Resurrection as my source of salvation rather than the death/atonement part of the story. Ditto for the confession of sin. Even ELCA Lutherans say they are "captive to sin" in the General Confession. Granted, that's a lot better than "...and we justly deserve your present and eternal punishment" schtick I used to have to say in the LCMS. But again, I like to belive that the Resurrection freed me from being a captive to any of that.
I did laugh because one of my old childhood bugaboos came back to haunt my thoughts while sitting in Pastor's church. In the Lutheran church, you do the confession of sin at the very beginning of the worship service. As a child, I used to fret over this, because I figured that gave me 30-45 minutes to think more sinful thoughts and thereby negate my confession, and not be "pure" when I approached the rail at communion time. One of the things I still laugh to myself at Trinity, since the General Confession in the Episcopal church comes much later in the service, is that I have far less time to think those evil thoughts and stand a better chance at "rail purity." (big smile and wink here)...
But we all said the confession and immediately I thought, "Oh, DAMN! It's like the old days! I have a half hour or better to sit here without sinning!"
Every now and then I fall for those cheesy Internet quizzes. This one is "the country quiz".
Hmm...which country am I?
Mystical and rain-soaked, you remain mysterious to many people, and this
makes you intriguing. You also like a good night at the pub, though many are just as
worried that you will blow up the pub as drink your beverage of choice. You're good
with words, remarkably lucky, and know and enjoy at least fifteen ways of eating a potato.
You really don't like snakes.
Take the Country Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid
I have still been cogitating over the readings for the past Sunday--particularly Sirach 10:12-18 and Luke 14:1, 7-14. It's all about swallowing one's pride. What I found interesting is that the reading in Sirach focused on the beginning of pride. Although I am well seasoned in the concept that "pride is a real problem", I had not thought much about the beginning of pride--that moment when you let pride sit in the driver's seat. Sirach 10:12 says "The beginning of pride is to forsake the Lord, the heart has withdrawn from its Maker."
We all know that moment when pride takes the wheel. Maybe someone said just the right (or wrong) thing, and you feel that little warrior inside of you go, "AAARRGGGHHH!" and you puff up like a hognose snake.
Those of you not from the Midwest may not have an appreciation of hognose snakes. My grandmother's generation called them "puff adders." A hognose snake has two responses to a threat. Its first response is to puff up to twice its size, hiss and spit, strike, and put on quite a show. But despite the nickname, it is not a poisonous snake nor is it in the adder family. It can only bite in the manner of the more benign snakes. It only has the small row of teeth common to non-poisonous snakes with the addition of "rear fangs." These rear fangs do not contain classical venom but can secrete a mildly toxic substance--however it only appears to be of use against smaller prey. In short, they puff up because they are vulnerable.
Hmmm, there's a coincidence...how many times to we puff up because we are vulnerable? Not only do we hiss and spit when threatened, we might puff up with our accomplishments, we might puff up with an image of ourselves that make us feel better, we call attention to our strengths to hide our inadequacies. We tell slightly spun versions of the truth to make our inequities more benign. We point to our past accomplishments to hide the fact the present scares us.
If you are playing with a hognose snake, this can be quite fun. You take a stick and poke at it and watch it puff up and carry on in a most amusing fashion. You'd think it was a cobra, the way it acts. But, if that tactic doesn't work, a hognose snake has another trick in its arsenal. It rolls on its back and plays dead, in the hopes its tormentor doesn't like dead prey. Not only plays dead but often poops on itself and emits a musky, nasty odor. Sometimes it even sticks out its tongue like it was dead. If you flip the snake back on its belly, it will flop back over on it's back just to prove to you it's dead.
Again, let's extrapolate this. When our hissing and spitting doesn't make the threat go away, it is often our tendency to blame ourselves. We shrink back, shut down, opt out, go off in the corner, drink too much, withhold sex, or become unreasonably contrite, saying "I'm sorry" for anything and everything, even if it is not of our making. We will prove to you we are "dead" (or in this case "bad") by hitting ourselves with a stick and berating ourselves for being such a "sinful being." These are all substitutes for honest atonement. In other words, we tend to substitute mea culpa drama for the real thing.
This all plays out starting at the moment we ignore God's ability to lead and direct us--the beginning of pride. Of course, hognose snakes act totally on instinct and can't be changed. Humans, however, can choose to "not go there." This can sometimes be hard to do, but it can be done. We can choose to step back three steps from our instinct and take in the situation...but doing this is work. Work we often simply choose not to do.
I just hope I can follow my own advice in this regard.
Ok, it's no secret I was leaning towards a triquetra for my 2nd tattoo. Here it is (but it is still a little on the "raw" side so it's not in its perfect final healed form:
It's a good symbol on a lot of fronts. It has its roots in Scandinavian, Celtic, and early Christian symbolism. Obviously, in Christian symbolism, it represents the Trinity (often called the "Trinity knot"). In the ancient Celtic religion, it represents earth, sea, and sky. As the Celts converted to Christianity, the concept of "threes"was already a part of their religion and culture, so it was pretty easy for them to make the switch to understanding the Trinity. To the Vikings, it represented the power of Odin to bind or unbind the warrior's mind. It very likely was originally a Christian symbol first as no evidence of the symbol exists before 30 C.E. The equal size of the three "legs" of the symbol represents the equality of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the intertwining of the arcs with the circle represents indivisibility.
Then again, I am old enough to remember when the symbol was on the Led Zeppelin album "Zoso" and that Jimmy Page considered it "his" symbol and all the fundamentalists who hated Led Zeppelin liked to claim it was a symbol for "666"...so maybe it will also give the fundies something to keep their tongues wagging and keep them away from me with their tracts and evangelizing...they might consider me a hopeless cause (Thanks be to God!)!!!!!
I chose to do it in shades of purple mostly because it is opposite of my other tattoo (both sides of my left ankle), which is purple. But one could make the argument that my favorite color, purple, is also the color of Lent, signifying penance, atonement, and a contrite heart. The secular meaning of purple is it is the universal color of "No Trespassing." In many states, (Missouri included), landowners often paint their corner fence posts purple as the wordless "No Trespassing" sign. It is roughly the size of the other tattoo (same height, a little wider) which leaves the possibility open that someday I may want to do some sort of design to connect the two, around my ankle.
I wonder at times if my love of the color purple has to do with my constant spiritual battle to become continually more contrite, to give up of "self", to try to be more attuned to God's voice and to let it lead me. But this symbol is certainly a good choice for me. In fact, it is exactly the same size as the triquetra on our church bulletin. (I actually used it for the tattoo artist to make his tracings!) So if you are clergy and reading this, you might not ever look at your artwork on the church bulletin quite the same ever again!