The Meaning Behind the Ink

Several years ago, I departed alongside 11 other young men and women and made my way into the depths of the dark continent of Africa. We went as young people with a mission to serve with all our hearts and everything we could ever become.

In the months leading up to the trip with Akia-Ashianut, I was asked to help draw out some designs for a t-shirt. Alongside several drawings of the clinic and two hands holding one another, I included a motto that soon became something that defined out trip: “We Live, We Love”.

For years these words haunted my sketchbook. More than words, they haunted my heart, reminding me every day what it means to both live and love.

Through loving, we learn to live. And through living, we learn to love. We cannot separate the two, no matter what the pain, the sorrow, or the hardships that come across our paths.

Two years ago, I wrote these same words on my wrist the first time, testing out a theory of my first tattoo. In the days off of work, they could be found settling on my skin, thinking and waiting. Several people commented that if I wrote it enough times, it would probably stain the skin permanently. I laughed. And waited.

A week ago, I got these words written on me for the last time.

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“We Live, We Love” is more than a way of life. It is the memories of Uganda. Of friendships. Of bridges burned and rebuilt. It is a constant reminder that there is something bigger, and through our lives we live out the love of our faith, be we Christians, Muslims, Jews, Atheists, or Buddhists (or anywhere between or that I missed).

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These words cross the lines of faith, of race, of ethnicity, of culture. We all live in the hopes of loving, and love so that we can live to the fullest.

A couple of mornings ago, I was rereading Gregory David Roberts’ Shantaram and came across a passage that has stuck with me these past couple days:

One of the reasons why we crave love, and seek it so desperately, is that love is the only cure for loneliness, and shame, and sorrow. But some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths about yourself are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. And some things are just so sad that only your soul can do the crying for you.

While not exactly the same message as the ink that now ordains my wrist, it speaks of the power of love that drives us all to experience life to the fullest. Without love, we can never truly live to the fullest.

And although life can be brutal at times, love is what keeps us going through the darkest of days.

God Bless and PEACE

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