Wednesday, August 26, 2009

With This Ring

Twenty-nine years ago I placed a ring on my husband's finger, promising to provide a home for him with love to fill his heart and laughter to fill his soul.

It was a bit touch and go that day as to whether the ring would go over his gnarley knuckle. We stood watching as the minister spoke about the significance of the rings, all the while twisting Goddy's ring in his fingers and rubbing off the Vaseline we'd carefully applied so it would slip on. It did get stuck a bit at the second knuckle, but I managed to shove it on without losing too much composure.

The rings we exchanged served their intended purpose, reminding us of the great love we share and the never-ending circle of God's love that keeps it intact.

Well, all the years of shearing and hard work finally took their toll this summer and Goddy's ring finger swelled dangerously. After agonizing over it for a few weeks, with me sure that gangrene would set in and we wouldn't need to worry about a ring finger, much less a ring, he finally agreed to have his wedding ring cut off.

He said it felt like part of his identity got cut away at the same time. The only time that ring had come off in all those years was for rugby games in the first year of our marriage.

But then, we got a brilliant idea. Actually, I got the idea but Goddy agreed that it was brilliant. Well, maybe he wasn't that enthused right at first, but he thought the idea had merit. He would get a ring tattooed onto his finger.

When the boys and I got our tattoos, people would ask Goddy when he was getting his, and he maintained he wasn't going to succumb to peer pressure. His abiding memory of a tattoo discussion was with his grandfather Charlie, who'd gotten one during WWI, during a wild leave in London. Charlie and his buddys all got tats, convinced they were going to die in the trenches in France and so it wouldn't matter. Well, they didn't and it did. The only time Goddy remembers his grandfather getting angry was when he admired the tattoo, only to be told that a day didn't go by that Charlie didn't regret what he'd done.

Those kind of memories have a way of coloring how one looks at things, and Goddy never saw a reason for a tattoo. Until now...

The very thing that had been taboo for so long became the solution. Now, a tattooed ring doesn't completely encircle the finger (our digits just weren't designed for it I guess) and you get to think up a design that's got a bit more spiff that a plain gold band. But that's what makes it special, and it'll never go away, no matter what those old knuckles do.

Imagine our delight when a tattoo studio opened last week in Sisters, run by a local young woman who we admire. We do love to shop local.

Today was the day, and here is the process...

It's an interesting canvas to work on!

Ashley warned that it would hurt...

And it did!

But it was worth it in the end.

Tattooed fingers, tattooed ankles, tattooed hearts - we've got 'em all now!

Friday, August 14, 2009

In A Tangle, reprise

A while back I wrote about a tangled mess of yarn that got that way during the road trip with Evan. I've been spending the past several days working on that snarl and have had ample opportunity to mull over life and spiritual applications of a messed up hank of yarn.

The first quote that came to mind was from Sir Walter Scott: "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." It sounded good but didn't apply here because there was no deception in this cottony snag. It innocently occurred when the nice, tidy hank was unwrapped and the handler (that would be me) attempted to roll it without help.

Life principle #1: We are presented to this world as a created package, but often it takes a team or at least another pair of willing hands to get us into a useable form.

Life principle #2: Tangles can be someone elses fault and it's ok to say that.

So the next quote that related to this mess was actually a song we used to sing to the boys when they were little...

"Tangles, tangles, tangles I was in,
I was all in tangles because of Adam's sin.
Jesus came along and he undid all the knots,
Now I'm free from my tangles."

Much more applicable.

I looked at the snag, which appeared like a mass of dark pink and purple...something. Intestines maybe. (Although I know from my colonoscopy pictures that an intestine isn't pink and purple, but I digress.)

Tossing it away did cross my mind, but then I remembered that I had paid for it.

Life principle #3: We have been bought with a price, the life of Jesus.

If God figures we're worth straightening out, a task that can take years, a few days spent on a hank of yarn is nothing!

Partway through the process I was getting a bit frustrated, but then realized there was enough rolled up to make something. So I took a break and knitted a useful dishcloth.

Life principle #4: We can be used even in the midst of getting untangled.

At some stage the other end of the yarn appeared out of the fray, so I started rolling that end too. So now there were choices of which side to work on, though sometimes one side was just easier to work with than the other.

Life principle #5: There are two sides to every situation.

Getting close to the end, I was tempted to just cut out the last bit. Who'd miss that extra yard or so that was going to take several more hours to unknot? I looked at it, and just couldn't do it. Having come this far, why waste any of it? What if those last inches were needed to finish whatever project this yarn would be used for?

Life principle #6: "He who endures to the end shall be saved." (Matt. 24:13) And the last little bit of anything can be the most valuable.

Finally, after weaving the yarn balls in and out of the last loops, the final tangle fell out. Yay! But then there were two balls of yarn joined together. Oops. To be able to use them I'd have to cut them apart.

Life principle #7: Sometimes you have to be cut loose to be useful.

So what to do with all this smooth yarn? I'm thinking it'll make a lot more swell dishcloths!