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Kindness Korner

The Most Wonderful Tattoo I Have Ever Seen

The Most Wonderful Tattoo I Have Ever Seen

At a recent theological seminary commencement I was asked to speak a few words about my experiences in ministry. The name of my recent book, The Miracle of Kindness was included in my remarks, along with a little more about that topic. The reference to kindness, I soon learned, sparked a connection with the father of one of the graduates. Later, by coincidence, I ran into him at the reception. He greeted me warmly and quickly jumped into a personal story. At first the story seemed only distantly related to anything in my talk. “Forty-five years ago Nietszche wrote a book called God is Dead,” he said. That statement caused me to begin to write the man off. I knew Nietszche had written such a book but it was a century earlier. The man went on, “his book upset me so much I went out and had tattooed on my shoulder the words God is Kindness.”

Now I became excited. Here was a kindred spirit for certain. After all I am the Koach of Kindness (cf.K-O-K). I began to smile broadly and celebrated with “that is so great. I love that! I agree 100% with those words.” Now he was smiling from ear to ear also.

Next I had the temerity to ask if I could see his tattoo. Immediately he took off his suit coat, loosened his tie, and unbuttoned his white shirt. Then he pushed the shirt, and his undershirt, off his shoulder and there it was.

The tattoo was clearly visible but somewhat blurred. Many years had passed since the ink had been needled into his skin. I could easily read the first word GOD. Then there was a short word I assumed to be is followed by a longer word I could not read, but expected it to be kindness. But as I was trying to make it out he remembered and told me he had it in the Spanish language, his native tongue. That changed my expectation and I could see it was a spanish word. (Since then I have had two different answers to my question about what the word most likely was. Some said ead amabilidad, others suggested bondadoso both apparently are Spanish words for kindness. I was moved. I was a special guest observing a passionate statement of faith, imbedded in his skin. It was his inerasable proclamation, that God is alive and actively present in our lives, through loving-kindness.

His tattoo is a profound protest from the heart of a deep thinking, insightful man, who knows better than the great philosopher that God is love. Before we parted we hugged, twice, and I promised to send a copy of the book, to his home in a borough of New York City.

Later I wondered, why he hadn’t simply written "God is Love". There must be a special reason he chose the word kindness. That question will be sent to him along with The Miracle of Kindness. There may be a story there.

P.S. In general I dislike tattoos. Obviously there are exceptions. I love this one.

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