Listening to Ink
In artwork from a unique photo exhibit, St. Timothy’s allows us to recognize the underlying desire in all of us to be heard
There must have been those who thought Reverend Gary Beson had gone off the rails when he suggested St. Timothy’s, a newly planted church in Summerville, put together and host Hear Me, Too – a photo exhibit of tattoo art. Though we are assured by the Lord, “I will not forget you. I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:15-16), what possible connection could a collection of ink have to do with the church?
Everything, it turns out, when viewed in the context of St. Timothy’s own vision statement: “…to expand the Kingdom of God by supporting each other in living differently and intentionally to create a community of faith that serves as a witness to Christ.”
For Beson, the idea of living differently means finding different ways to be the church, not just on Sunday, but more importantly on Monday through Saturday. Reaching out to ask the stories behind people’s tattoos, a concept that originated at a church Beson and his wife attended in Pittsburgh, has allowed those who have joined him on the project to grow friendships and relationships in unlikely places, and to tear down barriers by simply listening.
By recognizing a tattoo as an indication that those who choose the form of expression want to be heard, the exhibit speaks to humanity’s universal entreaty, “Hear my prayer, oh God. From the ends of the earth, I cry out to you” (Psalm 61:1-2).
“We want to hear the stories,” Beason says. “This is not an evangelistic effort by the church to recruit members.” He is emphatic on this point. “We are more interested in relationships and friendships than in simply bringing people to a building.”
The creators of Hear Me, Too believe the exhibit to be a message of hope for all mankind, that we are all heard, and known, and loved—and truly tattooed on the hands of God.
By Susan Frampton