My last tattoo was done, or should I say redone, in Las Vegas in September 2010. The main event was to see Carlos Santana in concert at the Hard Rock Cafe. It was the first vacation I took on my own and I was nervous. Careful planning was key for a woman traveling by herself.
The flight? It cost me $0.89, yes, that’s cents. A few months prior, I was waiting to fly to California for work and a group of Army personnel was traveling for training. American Airlines asked people to give up their seats for a voucher. A quick call to my boss to confirm I could delay a few hours, and I stepped forward to offer my ticket. A grateful lieutenant thanked me so he could travel with his trainees, and a $300 credit for a future flight in hand, I sat in the airport for five hours working on my laptop until my new flight arrived.
I flew in to Las Vegas on a Sunday and grabbed a cab to my hotel. I booked a room at the Rio, a nice casino resort off the main strip with shuttle services downtown. Prices were reasonable when I booked with a Facebook coupon, $49 per night is hard to beat. I checked in with the front desk and proceeded to my modest room.
Up the elevator, suitcase in tow, and I excitedly opened the hotel room door – what a mess. Housekeeping had not been in to clean up from what was a pretty hungry crowd with take-out boxes and half eaten food strewn across unmade beds and wet towels (I am assuming wet but didn’t confirm). A quick call to the front desk and they re-booked me in a corner suite at no extra cost. Jackpot!
Sunday night – the Carlos Santana concert – was a spiritual experience. The long-time Latino rocker opened the show with a prayer – calling on the Holy Spirit to descend on the place. The crowd was an eclectic hodge-podge of young and old, all races, men and women, sharing in the love of Santana’s music. The night was magical and I will always treasure the memory of that concert.
The remaining time – had breakfast with my friend, Rita, who lives in North Las Vegas, and took a tour of Mars chocolate factory after seeing the Hoover Dam. Oh yeah, I also met Pete Rose at a sports memorabilia shop at Caesar’s Palace. Walked over to the Bellagio to watch the dancing fountains – it was a typical, benign Vegas trip.
Then, I got my tattoo redone – the triple purple rose was hand drawn by a Hawaiian tattoo artist to hide a date I wanted to forget. The date remains under the art, but the purple roses and surrounding leaves and vines hide it very well.
All the while – I was careful, very careful – never to be alone, always scanning the area I was in, staying with a mixed crowd of couples or families. The security measures in Las Vegas are robust and extensive, from casino and hotel security, to police presence on the streets – both seen and unseen – I felt safe wherever I went.
I prayed a lot, as this was a new kind of trip – being a new Christian in Vegas, and by myself – I wanted to have the experience, but prayed for guidance, for coverage, for safety – and it was granted. I flew home after four days, safe and sound.
The tragedy in Las Vegas is beyond compare. One of the most secure cities, a place where people gathered to have a good time and celebrate at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. Fans were there doing what most people do in town, relaxing, spending time with friends and strangers – listening to great music, and enjoying the desert night air with 22,000 others.
The stories of heroism, humanity, compassion, coming to the aid of others, sacrifice to protect family, friends, and strangers – first responders, veterans, and caring people helping the crowd get out of the line of fire. This is where the best of humanity comes to the forefront. This is where Love shows up. Love – the greatest of all, the trophy at the end, the best outcome to a tragedy. Love – it’s what Jesus said to do, to be, to focus on, to live. The devil rained down in Vegas, God’s Love prevailed.
Our prayers go out to the families and friends of those lost, to the healing of those still fighting, and comfort for those who will be recovering for years to come from this traumatic event. Like my tattoo – the memory will always be there, an image burned just under the skin – May God show you His Love through all of this and cover the tragedy with His Grace, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
From the Route 91 Harvest website:
“While we try and move forward, we will never forget this day.
We will NOT let hate win over LOVE.
We will NOT be defeated by senseless violence.
We WILL perservere, and honor the souls that were lost.
Because it matters.”
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
John 15:13 NIV