Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This past Sunday, tens of thousands of runners gathered for the ING New York City Marathon. As luck would have it, yesterday I had the good fortune to run into Gavan, an Australian runner who had completed the marathon (his 24th!).
And where the rest of New York seemed bundled for a chilly, drizzly Autumn Day (with our first reported sleet of the season), Gavan was wearing shorts. This was great for me, as it allowed a view of this very nice tattoo on the back of his right calf:


Gavan explained that this was based on a work of art by Albrecht Dürer called Betende Hände, or "Praying Hands." One story behind the work details the sacrifice between two brothers.


He elaborated that it has a greater meaning that, although he has never been very religious, he found himself
praying during the birth of his second son, beseeching a higher power, "Please let him be okay".

He believes that the prayer travels with him, as he is separated and not always with his sons. His journey as a marathoner carries him to faraway places, as well, and these absences are tinged with worry over the well-being of his kids. Please let them be okay.

As life progresses and he grows older, these hands become more and more significant.

Gavan's tattoo is also striking in that the tattoo is on the back of his leg, and he is a runner. To complete a marathon, I believe, takes more than stamina and training. One must also have faith, whether it be in a higher power or the ability to push one's body to complete an astounding task of strength and endurance.

I also wonder how many runners this past Sunday saw Gavan's tattoo ahead of them, and drew strength from the image before them.

Gavan credits this wonderful tattoo to Jane Laver at Chapel Tattoo in Prahran, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. There's a nice profile of Jane here.

Thanks again to Gavan for sharing his hands of prayer with us here on Tattoosday! Congratulations on a race well-run and thank you for visiting our metropolis. We hope you have an enjoyable stay and pray that your return home safely to your two boys back in Australia!

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