When I Get a Tattoo

Be strong and of good courage and do it.
— King David to Solomon

I want a tattoo, but I’m afraid. It’s not the piercing of the tattoo pen or my fear of catching a blood-born illness that holds me back. It’s that I go on word-kicks. I find a word that means something to me, or perhaps a phrase or an idea, and I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and surrender my arm (above the short-sleeve line, for sure). Kavanah was a relatively long-term frontrunner (i.e. two weeks). It means intention. Then, responsible, aware and available. I awoke from a dead sleep over a decade ago with those words in my mind. They’re the angles that shape my life to some degree, but they’re not quite right. But, these words have hung around for about a month: wisdom, vision and courage. I’m thinking a trip to a large city with quality tattoo artists could be in the cards.

In his book The Liberating Path of the Hebrew Prophets, Rabbi Nahum Ward-Lev observes that the Hebrew prophets are marked by the traits of wisdom, vision and courage. The order of the words is important to me. If you have courage but no wisdom, you’ll charge headlong into the wrong battles. If you have wisdom but no vision, how is that wisdom best applied? If you have vision but no wisdom, well, we’ve all seen leaders spend their lives climbing the wrong mountain. You can turn it a few different ways, but you get the point.

Wisdom. Vision. Courage.

It takes courage to accomplish a vision that is born of wisdom. It takes wisdom to see clearly the vision that should be pursued. It takes vision to move wisdom into action.

I’ve found myself these past few weeks at the edge of taking the plunge, making the leap, or whatever it is you say when you know the thing to do and just have to have the moxie to get it done. Courage, I’ll mumble to myself.

When faced with many options, and I don’t know the path - wisdom.

When stuck in the muck of minutia - vision.

These are the words of the prophets. God, give us wisdom, vision and courage.

Tommy Brown1 Comment