Meditation on head covering.

This is a photo from April, 2015, when I decided to start covering my head every day instead of just on the Sabbath.  I did it in response to an ignorant statement from a woman at a diversity class that I had to attend.  She stated that it was backwards for women from Muslim countries to cover, that they were oppressed.  I find it significant that this class was meant to teach us how to get along with each other, but here was the teacher saying something divisive. I told her after class that some Christian women cover.

She didn’t know that I am included in that because that was during the week and my head was bare.  So she thought it was OK to say something less than inclusive – like how people will look around before they tell a racist joke – assuming that if you are of the same color as them, you will agree.

 

I like that covering my hair makes people have to look at me as a person, and not as a body. It slows people down. They don’t assume that they can be intimate with me (and that word means more than physical). This society assumes a lot and takes a lot of liberties.

 

There is some spirituality in the practice of covering, and some religion. I can cite the Bible verses, but they aren’t the point. Nobody told me to do this. I’m not under anybody’s control – except God’s. I feel called by God to do this. It is a reminder to me that I am a precious child of God. It is a sign that I am focused more on the spiritual than the physical.

 

Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and some denominations of Christian women do this as a sign of modesty. What I find most interesting is that I get more flak for doing this than when I shaved my head.

 

Also, I cover as part of my commitment to being sober. When I was stoned, nobody noticed or cared. Now that I am sober (in as many ways as possible), people get irked. That is very interesting to me.

 

On that day I wore a pin with Nefertiti. Notice her amazing headpiece. It is her crown, and therefore a symbol of her authority. I suspect she wore that around people who needed to be reminded that she was queen. I wear my head covering for a similar reason.  To remind them that I am a child of God.  It also is intended to remind them of their own divine inheritance.

 

One male friend said of this picture “I think it shows compliance to patriarchal will.” But I don’t think he gets a vote.  As if women can’t choose to do what they want.  If men were able to control themselves, women wouldn’t have to cover up. No woman is to blame for a man’s actions.  But it is best not to dangle raw meat in front of dogs, either.

 

Nobody questioned me when I was stoned. That was when I wore baggy clothing and a barely there bra and boobs too big for that. That was when I wore tie-dyes that I made myself and pants hand sewn from batik fabric. Nobody minded that. I wore that when I was smoking pot every morning. They didn’t seem to care that I didn’t shower every day either.

Maybe because that was normal.

Maybe because I fit in with everybody else who was also lost and broken then.

I remember a time when I started wake up, started to take care of myself and started to write books and make art. I had a coworker who saw the smile on my face, the natural smile that results from noticing the tiny joys in this life instead of trying to run away from the pain. There is a joy from doing the hard internal work of growing up. She looked at my smile and said sort of sideways “What’s up?” Questioning me, curious, suspicious even.

There was nothing up.

I wasn’t up to anything but I certainly wasn’t down anymore.

Down was old.

This is a person who made fun of people who did drugs but had her own way of escaping. On her days off she would sleep the entire day away. Escape is escape no matter how you do it. Chemically or naturally not being present is still running away.

So now I have replaced my dependence on drugs with a dependence on God. My personal understanding of religion has come into question. I wear loose modest clothing and I cover my head. I’m not trying to call attention to myself but I am clothing myself with the armor of righteousness to remind myself of the One that I belong to. It is like putting on a name tag saying I work for this company. But the company I work for is God.

But now that I’m doing something religious, people question. They wonder why I cover my head, they wonder why I wear long clothing. They didn’t care when my hair wasn’t washed and my clothing was sloppy. But now that I’m taking care of myself they challenge me. Their questions aren’t out of respect. It isn’t curiosity.

They think perhaps that I am “other”.  Perhaps they think I am judging them. I don’t know what’s up with them. I’ve asked why are you asking, but that only puts them even more on the defensive. But why should I be on the defensive for taking care of myself? And why should I have to justify myself for dressing in a religious manner?

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Following immediately

Look at these two different verses, one from the Christian scriptures, and the one it echoes from the Hebrew scriptures.

Luke 9:56-62 (TLV)

56 Then they moved on to another village. 57 As they were traveling on the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 But Yeshua said to him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 59 He said to another, “Follow Me.” But that one said, “First let me go and bury my father.” 60 But Yeshua said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Then another also said, “I will follow You, Master, but first let me say goodbye to those in my home.” 62 But Yeshua said to him, “No one who has put his hand to the plow and looked back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

 

While all of this passage is interesting, this post is concerned with verses 61-62.

Now look at the parallel –

 

1 Kings 19:19-21 (HCSB)

19 Elijah left there and found Elisha son of Shaphat as he was plowing. Twelve teams of oxen were in front of him, and he was with the twelfth team. Elijah walked by him and threw his mantle over him. 20 Elisha left the oxen, ran to follow Elijah, and said, “Please let me kiss my father and mother, and then I will follow you.” “Go on back,” he replied, “for what have I done to you?” 21 So he turned back from following him, took the team of oxen, and slaughtered them. With the oxen’s wooden yoke and plow, he cooked the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he left, followed Elijah, and served him.

 

In the Hebrew scriptures (1 Kings 19:19-21) the prophet-to-be Elisha is allowed to go back and finish up his business.  Yet in the Christian scriptures (Luke 9:56-62), the unnamed follower-to-be is denied this.

Is it because he wasn’t chosen?  In the case of Elisha, God told Elijah that he was to be selected as his follower, moreover, as his successor.  He is not just a follower, but is going to be an equal to Elijah in status and power.

Yet the follower of Yeshua (The Hebrew name of Jesus) was not chosen.  He chose to follow, instead of being chosen.  There is a difference, and it is important.  He was at risk of turning away, of being distracted from his healthy choice, if he went to his family – his old way of living.  He had to follow immediately or he would be in danger of being distracted from the path that leads to life.

This feels like an echo of the Parable of the Sower.  Here is the Condensed Gospel version of Jesus’ explanation of it –

The parable of the sower explained

Jesus said “Do you not understand this parable? Then how are you going to be able to understand any of them? The seed is the word of God. The sower is the one who shares it with others. The people along the path are those who have heard the message about the kingdom and don’t understand it. Satan has snatched away the words that were sown in their hearts so they would not believe and be saved.”

As for the seed sown on rocky ground, this represents the people who hear the word and immediately receive it joyfully. However, because they are not rooted in their faith, they believe for a little while but stumble when troubles come because of the word.

Regarding the seed sown among thorns, these are the people who hear the word but are distracted and paralyzed by worry and greed, and the word is not able to take root in them and produce any fruit.

But the seed sown on good ground represents the people who hear the word with honest and open hearts. They understand it, welcome it, and through endurance are able to bear much fruit, even up to 100 times what was sown.”

MT 13:18-24, MK 4:13-20, LK 8:11-15

Take a second look.

On the walk to Emmaus (see Luke 24:13-31) two disciples meet Jesus on the road. Their eyes were kept from recognizing them (verse 16).

I find verses 28-29 striking –

“They approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther on. But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is already gone.” So He went in to stay with them.”

It was only after they encouraged him to stay with them that he revealed who he was. They were rewarded for being patient and hospitable. They were rewarded for being curious.

This reminds me of Moses in Exodus 3:1-4 –

“Now Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. So he led the flock to the farthest end of the wilderness, coming to the mountain of God, Horeb. Then the angel of ADONAI appeared to him in a flame of fire from within a bush. So he looked and saw the bush burning with fire, yet it was not consumed. Moses thought, “I will go now, and see this great sight. Why is the bush not burnt?” When ADONAI saw that he turned to look, He called to him out of the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” So he answered, “Hineni.”

It is from this moment that the deliverance of Israel from slavery began, because it was here that God gave Moses his commission.

In both of these verses, we learn that God rewards us for taking a second look, for being curious. We are rewarded for looking beneath the surface and digging deeper.

(All Bible translations are Tree of Life Version)

Spring path

spring path

The path was small here, but sure.

Spring had come quickly to this small wood.

I had passed the brook some few hours ago.

There lay those who had meant to waylay me.

Their stories would lie with them now.

Now no-one knew the paths I took.

Now I could change my face, my garb for the last time.

 

Long had I roamed the world away from men.

They brought me no peace those past times.

Never again would I let down my guard.

Never again would I show them my true face.

 

In peace I came to this land, and in peace I would leave.

Long had I hoped to find my true home, but it was not to be.

Not yet.

 

Not until I would see the moon rise over the desert lands again.

The inselbergs I had long ago abandoned lay before me now.

My path has come full circle.

In my heart I am home already.

 

________

This prose-poem was inspired by a picture I am using as a screen saver. I found it online doing a search for “spring”. The format and length of this piece were determined by the physicality of the journal that I wrote this in.  I chose to make the sentences not wrap around – they had to end when the page ended on the right.  The poem had to be completed on that one page, so I had to plan the finish early. I am also reading an Andre Norton book right now, and that influenced the tone.

Maundy Thursday sketches

The morning of Maundy Thursday this year (3/29/18) I went to Centering Prayer at Providence UMC in Mt. Juliet.  I used to go home after that until it was time to go to work, but I’ve started staying out, looking for a place to sketch.  I wasn’t sure where I was going to go with not a lot of time, but I needed to go to the post office to check to see if we had any mail.  It was raining a little, so I decided to stay there and sketch.

img_0817Then to work.  I got off at 6 (using vacation time) to go to the Seder presentation at Celebration Lutheran.  This is outside, looking at the prayer garden. The trees are green with lichen. The light was amazing.

img_0818img_0822

I brought my sketch tools in to sketch the Seder presentation.  It was just a demonstration, not set out for everyone.  But then I was asked to participate!