I have always cared about what to wear. As child I looked wistfully at a store window, knowing that my clothes came from what we then called “the missionary barrel.” As an adult in public ministry when I received an invitation to preach or speak, my first interior response was always, “what will I wear?” And now in retirement I have found that my sartorial needs are fewer and fewer.
Then comes the Covid-19 virus! Symbolic to this season is a dress hanging in my closet. For years it was important to me to have an “Easter dress” to wear on Easter Sunday, and then in the vocational years I wore a clerical robe all the time, so no new togs were necessary for festival days; I was out of the habit (so to speak!). But This Year, I thought, I would celebrate by choosing an Easter dress early, and on that time of great rejoicing, would add to the festivities by wearing something new, a sign of new life, energy and spring., of Resurrection. And on that day, we were sheltering in place! And the dress still hangs on its store hanger, waiting!
On a “normal” day in this pandemic, I don’t go to my closet to try to choose what will be best suited for the day’s occasion. At the most demanding, I try to see if my top is presentable for the Zoom and FaceTime calls ahead. I don’t spend an inordinate time in front of the mirror, making sure that the things I am wearing match, accessories are not too flashy, or the whole look clashes with the occasion. If it is to be a day of phone calls only, I am content to allow my T-shirts and comfortable pants suffice–no need for make-up, shoes, maybe even bras!
However, my attention has been caught by some words from Colossians:
…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness,and patience…Above all, clothe yourselves with love… Colossians 3:12,14
No matter what my body is wearing, this list a wardrobe to which I need to attend. In my conversations with people, I find that I am not the only one who finds herself with frayed edges in which I am judgemental toward others—near and far; unkind in words and action; impatient with over-exposure to beloved ones, as well as with the chaotic news of the world; and I find myself egocentrically wondering “what about ME?” It takes stamina and intention to keep reminding myself that the outfit of the day is Love, and the challenge of the day is to see what Love looks like today with all its sameness and surprise. This is a demanding practice, even in long relationship and commitments, and it is also a challenge to practice for myself–to extend the same kind of compassion and kindness and patience to my own muddling through these baffling times. “Put on Love!” That’s a pretty clear choice to make each day, and it doesn’t require washing ot ironing!