Tag Archives: tattoo

Bee in a Cocoon

On the day we left Bolivia I got a tattoo of a queen bee on my arm. It was the third in a series of images I had placed on my arm with indelible ink over the course of one year. My first tattoo is a black lace butterfly. The middle one is a dragonfly. My bee is on top. I imagine there will come a day when the sleeve is complete with hexagonal honeycomb, a beetle or two, and leafy filigree. For now, I am content with my winged trinity.

Fourteen months after the acquisition of the bee, I find myself on my college campus listening to an entomologist give a lively lecture about bees. Dr. Roe doubles as my Anatomy and Physiology professor. She does a fine job teaching about the human body, but her passion for insects is quite evident. The discourse came about as an initiative of the garden group. Permission was granted by one of the leading Sisters of College of Saint Mary for us to run a beehive on campus starting next Spring. This will be a thrill!

Did you know that bees undergo metamorphosis in a cocoon? I didn’t. This fascinates me. Cocoons have been a reoccurring theme in my life over the last few years. I leaned in to study the images on the slide as she explained the three week transformation of egg, to larva, to pupa, to fully formed bee. The egg is laid by the queen. It hatches and is fed by nurse bees. As a larva it grows and fills up it’s six-sided cradle. Then the bees come along and cap the capsule, sealing the larva inside. What happens before the fully formed bee breaks out of this cocoon astounds me.

Did you know that inside its cocoon the bee becomes liquefied? All the cells, organs, and features that allowed that larva to eat and grow break down. “Gradually the pro-pupa becomes little more than a bag containing a nutrient rich soup,” according to this video demonstration of the process: Bee metamorphosis: remarkable internal changes. Do you grasp the sheer absurdity of this fact? The construct of a wriggling little structure becomes liquid. 

Then comes the reconfiguration. In that tiny, dark, soupy cocoon, the liquid swishes around to reconfigure and reshape into a pupa. It grows legs and hair. It’s brain and DNA formulate to give the little creature an instruction manual and purpose of life. The pigmentation of yellows, browns, and golds appear from that milky goo. It’s eyes bulge. Fragile wings grow which will allow that bee to survive and soar.

My eyes welled with tears. I am in a cocoon stage of life. This liquefied stage of a bee’s life spoke to me. In this darkness, safely capped off by my community, it’s okay if I melt. It’s okay, for this time, to submit to the reconfiguration process. It’s okay to feel like I am drowning for a little bit… because that will pass. My life is getting reorganized. I will emerge from this cocoon, resplendent and ready to fly.

For now, I need to be in a cocoon like a bee in a cocoon. 


Scars Invited, Scars Imposed

You can’t see the scar I have from the cesarean section imposed upon me with the birth of my fourth child. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. ‘Taint pretty neither. Even after seven years the thing feels numb and achy every once in a while. I didn’t expect that. Maybe it’s because they opened me up, on the same scar, about a year after my youngest son was pulled out of me to yank out some nasty cysts from my uterus. Oh the memories!

The scar where I got stitches as a child when I sliced my finger open while cutting cabbage healed nice. The lines on my fingerprint don’t quite line up and there’s a dent. But you can only notice it if you are looking for it.

Some scars stand out. Some don’t. All have two things in common: pain and permanence.

Some scars we choose, most we don’t.

A middle-aged Bolivian man came to the office to purchase some resources to help his ministry. After some cordial chit chat he steered the conversation a different direction.

Man: Is that a real tattoo?

Me: Yes.

Man: So did you get it before you were saved? [a look of hope dispersing some of the furrow of his brow] Or after? [a slight shadowing of disappointment quickly erased by a forced grin]

Me: After.

Man: How long have you been saved?

Me: Let’s see, I got saved when I was eight, so that means next year it will have been 30 years ago.

Man: [tries to smile, nods his head, stares at the tattoo, pause for the maths] You are 37? You have much life ahead of you.

Me: I hope so. [amused smile that had never left my face this whole encounter]

Then he dropped the subject. Maybe he said everything he wanted to say. Maybe he didn’t. I was ready for a longer conversation.

Why didn’t he ask me how long I have had my ears pierced? Female Christians can choose to put holes in their ear lobes without inviting questions of their faith. At least, no one has ever asked me if I got my ears pierced before or after I was saved. I assume this is an acceptable form of intentional scarring. In the case of most Latin women that scarring comes at the hands of their parents when they are mere infants. In my case I was ten.

I chose the holes in my ears.

Earlier this year while talking with my husband DaRonn about the design, size, and placement I mentioned that many people get tattoos symbolizing their kids or family. He said, “The kids have left a mark on your body already. I think you want to do this for you. So you do whatever you want to do.” When a woman bears and cares for children her body changes. My five blessings have left their permanent mark on my body.

I chose the scar the artist needled into me.

My manicurist laughed when I told her that I don’t get waxed because I can’t stand the pain. This, right after she asked about how bad it hurt to get my tattoo (fyi: feels like a sunburn for about a day; that’s it). Oh the irony. Maybe I can’t endure the pain of a waxing because I know that I will have to have it done again, and again, and again, as the hair just keeps growing back. Whereas in the case of piercings and tattoos the pain fades and the beauty is permanent.


Back in March of 2010, before the arrival of my fifth child, I wrote a series of posts about scars. You can check them out here:

Private or public, internal or external, scars mark us all.  Let’s be kind to each other.