On occasion, someone will ask me why I have this strange tattoo on my breast or why my FetLife name is “his_epa.” I even had someone comment once that I must really be into protecting the environment since I hold the E.P.A., Environmental Protection Agency, in such high regard. The epa symbol is something very special, so I thought I would write an explanation of its meaning to me.
Epa, like the Kramo Bone, is a symbol in the Andinkra language. It loosely translates as, “you are the slave of him whose handcuffs you wear.” According to Andinkra.org , the epa traditionally, “reminds offenders of the uncompromising nature of the law” and “discourages all forms of slavery.” Both of these notions are incorporated in my personal use of the symbol.
First, the epa represents the “uncompromising nature of the law.” In my Master’s house, he is the law. I am always under his law and it never abandons me. I know that I will always have his fencing around me. For some people, the idea of being bound to rules and regulation is distasteful. For me, it is a comfort.
When I was a young mother, my mother came for a visit. At the time I lived in a crappy apartment in a bad neighborhood and my son was four. The kids from the apartment complex were all tattered little ruffians that appeared already intent on a life of crime and mischief but they tended to gather in my living room.
I didn’t feed them or give them anything, many of them were old enough that playing with my son was no fun, and most of the time I had them doing some sort of chore. If the garbage was full, I’d pick one and tell them to take it out. If the dishes needed washing up, I’d find a different kid and assign him the task. If they started fighting, I would snip at them to stop. I’d check if they had homework. They did what I asked and just sort of milled in and around our home. They seemed to like being around me and that was fine by me.
I didn’t understand why these kids were always hanging around, until my mother said something that surprised me. She said, “They are here so someone will tell them what to do. Children never feel safe unless they try to walk into the road and someone yells out to call them back from the danger.” This is how I feel about the law in my Master’s house. I know I am loved because there he stands, ready to put me to a task or call me back from the edge. The uncompromising nature of the law is unconditional love at its core.
The second notion, that the epa is a warning against slavery is also dear to me. I am in my heart a slave, like a horse is a horse or a dog is a dog. Slavery is what is me. Like a dog lost without his owner, I am often at risk of accepting enslavement from the things I come in contact with.
My Daddy commented that this seems weird that a slave would hold dear something that warns against slavery. To me, it is a warning against slavery that is unwanted. Perhaps this is a thin line from a logical point of view, but in my mind the line is clear.
I have often fallen into the sort of bad company that takes advantage of me. Everything I choose to follow, I followed without question. I’ve lived on a Y2K farm, planted churches, taken in strangers to live in my home because they were in need, and worked 60 hours a week while getting paid for 40.
I was always flowing whichever direction the river flowed and paddling with all my might to swim fastest and best. A boss once told me I am the picture of gullible in the dictionary, and in some ways I agree but it is more than that. I am a slave. A full hearted servant with loyalty and dedication to whatever I serve. This has led me into trouble at times and so I hold the epa symbol close to remind me I only serve one Master.
I cannot and ought not to allow anything to call on my service that he does not ask me to attend to. I work toward excellence and efficiency in my profession but I am not a slave to my work. My work is under his law and each day as I work I am conscious that it is all done in service to him. There is nothing I place ahead of him. No goal to be attained unless he sets it. I bear the tattoo of the epa on my breast and keep it in my thoughts to always guide me to follow only him. The epa is my safeguard whenever I am not with him.