Tell me again about the tattoos you have on your arms.

Okay. What do you want to know?

How do they relate to being Christian?

Well, the Tao is also known as the way, the eternal, unknowable way that cannot be named.

She nods. Mmm. Okay. Keep going.

She delivers the words as both an invitation and a regal command, a moral imperative. No matter my age, she is my mother, and I am often reminded.

The Te is also known as stepping out in virtue. The Tao Te Ching – the classic of the way of stepping out in virtue – predates Christ by several hundred years.

She glances sharply at me.

But they’re not the same.

No, they’re not the same but there are meaningful similarities, and I like the simplicity of the Tao. There’s no narrative. There are no characters to confuse the story. It just makes sense to me.

She mulls this a while. I go on.

Lots of the teachings are identical to those of Jesus. The person of the Christ is only found in Christianity but his teachings are found in lots of other wisdom literature.

I know, she intones, and she nods again like the wise old owl she has become.

I like that, she adds before going on. Some of my church friends would be horrified if they knew I liked talking about things like this.

I agree. I like these questions.

She wraps it all up: God is big enough to handle these questions.

It is both a statement of fact and a benediction. She smiles.

The service is over.


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