On wearing the prayer cap

I barely notice if I have on my cap, since it has become second nature. I do notice if I don’t have it. At home I sometimes take it off if it is hot or muggy. I almost always put it on by the time I cook breakfast, if only because it keeps my hair in place. My hair is now uncut about seven years, so it is past waistlength by a few inches, but it is babyfine and tends to take up in a curl after I’ve had it in a bun for a long time. I don’t intend to cut my hair again, but it has probably reached its terminal length now. Obviously, I don’t dye my hair. It is becoming a silvery white from its original reddish-brown. I pin it up with regular bobby pins. I used to have these great U-shaped plastic hairpins, sort of an oversized hairpin and it took only one of them to hold my hair. Alas, the last one snapped a few months ago and Goody no longer makes them. I tried those big butterfly clips and long spring clips, but they caught in my hair and were generally too fragile.

The hair is brushed back and put into a somewhat flat bun at the back of my head. Someone with thick, long hair would have to make a flatter bun, or even two, one over the other. I don’t use an elastic ponytail holder, they break my hair too easily. The cap goes on and is tied under the chin, then anchored with two spring steel plain clippies on either side of the bun, along the bottom hem. I may choose to untie the cap strings from time to time, but tied works best. Contrary to what you might think, even a tied cap will blow off in a strong wind, so the clippie anchors are important. I used to use straight pins either through the bun or just behind the front edge of the cap part, but my husband began to object that I was “prickly” everywhere, with too many straight pins holding my cap, kerchief apron and shawl! So I use just a pin at the front of the kerchief now.

Veils and head-kerchiefs should be clippied, as well, to keep them secure. You have the choice as to how you want to wear your hair under the cover, loose, braided neatly (a good choice for young girls), pony-tailed or in a bun. If you are growing out your hair after cutting it before, clippies and barrettes under the cover will keep it from working its way out. My fine hair still works loose, and I am often shoving bits of it under the cap.

Hmm- hats. I wear a straw hat in the summer. I had a good plain round one with a leather tie that worked well over the prayer cap. The bolero-style tie went under my bun at the nape of the neck. It wore out with much use and I couldn’t find an inexpensive replacement. The one I have now I bought on sale at a department store, but it has an upturned brim all the way around and is a bit too worldly for me. It looks better over a scarf, so this summer I put on the scarf, clippied it in place and set the hat over that. Kind of Georgia O’Keefe-ish. Churchy hats, like the ones I used to wear as a laywoman in the Anglican Church, are just not suitable, need I say. They are too easily a focus for status and pride. Too “look-at-me.” I do remember my mother had one that was especially frumpy, though, which was her church hat. It was a kind of tapestry lampshade shape.

Our headcoverings should be modest, plain and practical. They may attract some attention, but not because they are fashionable or even flattering, just because the world is not used to modest Christian headcovering women.

There is some debate about wearing one’s hair down at home. If my husband and I are alone and I am not going anywhere in the evening, I may take off the cap and let the hair down and brush it out. My husband likes my long hair as feminine and becoming. A few close friends have known me with my hair down, and I tried the uncovered look for a few weeks when we moved here to London, but I was so uncomfortable with it that I had to cover again. I say that long, loose hair is intimate between spouses. For me it is like having on a nightgown. I don’t want other people to see me that way!

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3 thoughts on “On wearing the prayer cap

  1. Greetings Dear Sister,

    I have only this night past stumbled across your blog and let me tell you what an inspiration our Heavenly Father has given me in leading me to your writings and musings. A little about myself; I am an Anglican ( had been in my childhood and have been again for the past three and a half years following over two decades with a markedly different Protestant denomination. Since 2001 I have been covering more or less constantly (but for a spell of three months or so in 2002). Convicted solely from scripture and prompted by the Holy Spirit to take up the headcover (having no access to the internet or books on the subject at the time). for some years leading to this, whenever reading the now iconic 1 Cor: 11 verses, this practice seemed brilliantly illuminated in my mind and tugged at my conscience. God works in His own time and way, however and in His infinite love and mercy persisted with me until 7 April 2001 (upon the occasion of my adult rebaptism) which seemed the perfect point at which to commence. the pastor who baptized me received somewhat of a shock when I stepped into the waters fully veiled, and even more of a shock when upon rejoining the assembled gathering after straightening myself out, donned another veil!! In that denomination I received criticism, had my fair share of debates and even had members, both male and female shout at me in rage about the covering trying to pull it from my head!!!! I stood my ground, and, as it happened, God used the meeting of my husband, inter-regional move and eventual leaving of that denomination to return to Anglicanism as a way in wich to refine my covering style and heal my spiritual wounds (which were numerous – our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is so loving – He has brought me forth and in my current congregation that I have attended since May 2005 has brought gentle sisters into my sphere whom He has used to refine and evolve my manner of covering. As my husband and I live in one of Sydney’s Muslim heartlands, to wear the full 40″x40″ scarf as I so love is not wise (‘false advertising’ and the like), so, it was a greatly respected elder lady at church who does not cover herself but nonetheless suggested a mantilla as a delicate yet modest means I might like to consider when covering. to this end, I wear almost exclusively lace wide headbands, mantilla-like triangles or knit headbands along with buncovers when in private or public prayer or Bible study, when at university (I study Theology at the Australian Catholic University Mt. St. Mary’s Campus two days per week) or when out of the home. when in the home, it is either bun cover or nothing unless I am praying; though more frequently I will don the headband. As for ‘Quaker’ plainness, as we do not have this tradition in any of its forms here in Australia (even the Menonites here and Quakers here see such as unneccessary, legalistic and burdensome), I’ve adhered to modesty (long skirts simple makes, modest blouses or twinsets etc) as best I can. Though my hubby shies away from me going ‘amish’ or ‘FLDS’ as he calls it, by God’s grace, he’s allowed me to redo my wardrobe courtesy of the King’s Daughters’ (Annie Lantz, our leading modest feminine attire clothierre would cost four times the price, even with the exchange rate as woeful as it currently is) so doing such is the best use of my resources (vision impairment prevents me from sewing for myself).

    so there you have it, the testamony of a fellow anglican sister, overwhelmed to meet a fellow anglican similarly convicted!!!!!!! it is so hard and lonely being the only one here at times and I pray that just one lady in our congregation (St. Bede’s, sydney) would be convicted so I wasn’t ‘all by myself’. thankfully though, even those who don’t agree respect wholeheartedly my right to practice this point of faith as I am led to and would defend my right to do so to the very end. this is one of Anglicanism’s shining positives in my thinking (even though one of our Bishops commented most negatively upon Christian ladies needing to ‘take up the veil’ as our muslim brethren here point out from our own scriptures. pity the fellow can’t see that they’re actually pretty well right…….this conviction is of god and only for God to make soul by soul, woman by woman. I pray our numbers in the Worldwide Anglican Communion steadily rise for God’s glory, that as we ‘decrease’ in the eyes of the world and even our fellow paritioners’, God is increased.

    May you be ever blessed and stand fast to your convictions!!

    A fellow Anglican sister who covers,

    Sarah.

  2. Sarah,

    God’s blessings to you, sister! I have had a positive comment from the local Bishop about my head cover. There are plenty of Plain people in Ontario (central Canada) but not in our city, except at the farmers’ markets. I do get a lot of “Mennonite” questions, but since Nicholas and I have read a lot about Anabaptists, we can answer without misleading. I refer you to our dear sister in the Lord, Isabel, who is at Quakerjane. You’ll see the link on my page. She is a gifted person, very encouraging, and knows the struggle well.

    May the peace of Christ be yours,
    Magdalena

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