Thank you, Lord, for those who have given gladly of their hearts and time to accompany us on this journey. Without knowing what to expect, they have offered themselves as companions. We share our lives, our thoughts, our joys and sorrows. We are a body of disciples, learning from You through each other. Bless our time and work together, as we enter this Kingdom community.
It seems a double handful of friends in various places have decided they are no longer plain. When I ask why the answers range from “My husband/family didn’t like it” to “I was tired of telling people I’m not Amish.” The most honest answer was probably “It was a mistake, I wasn’t meant for this.” I won’t question people’s motives, but I can’t see it myself. Plain is so easy – so low-key – so cheap!
A long time ago I got tired of the mirror. I didn’t want to be the person checking her hair, checking her clothes, checking her make-up. I wasn’t fashion obsessed, but I had the idea that as an artist, my body was a canvas, and I would show the world who I was by what I displayed on it. But instead of having a number of “costumes” that went on easily, so as to get on with the day and serve as a billboard for my creative work, dress became a matter of insecurity.
I was projecting who I wanted to be, not who I was. I was manipulating how people saw me. They didn’t get to know me, they got to know my clothes.
While I am usually in habit now, out on the street, I still dress Plain at home and when I travel anywhere. Do people think I’m Amish? Maybe. Not a bad thing. I don’t do anything that would embarrass an Amish woman or mislead someone about the Amish. (This also reminds me to behave modestly in all things.) And if someone asks me if I am Amish, I say that I am not, and that I belong to a different church. If they are curious enough to ask more questions, it is an opportunity to witness to them, to spread the gospel. Either in habit or Plain dress, I am happy to pray for or with someone if they ask. This is apostolic witness; no Christian should be ashamed of it.
Stay Plain. Become Plain. It means you never fuss with clothes again. The habit is a medieval form of Plain; those in religious orders might consider taking it up if they put it off. Plain is comfortable. It is practical. It is inexpensive. You can have a smaller house because you don’t need extra closet space. It doesn’t go out of fashion. It is easy to sew. Covering means that you don’t worry about hairstyles, grey hair or thinning hair. Plain means you need one mirror in the house. You gain self-confidence. You know how people see you: As a Christian. It is a commitment to a way of life that liberates.
Plain means you stop thinking about yourself as some sort of ornament decorating the world, and become Real. Becoming Real means living in God’s Kingdom, now and always, rather than staying in the illusion that is the world and our insecurities.
I have been using Anglican, Plain as a box room for all sorts of posts elsewhere. I am deeply involved in the religious order I now head, The YOKE, and its subsidiary order of new monastics, The Little Sparrows of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Still, there are times I want to say things and I don’t have the right forum at the YOKE webzine (www.theyoke.org) or “For Each Day.” Sister blog “All In Black” is on hiatus, waiting for me to decide where that needs to go.
Well, I’m back. I will try to blog at least once a week here with my observations of Plain life and religious life and the world.
Creator, we owe You thanks for providing the means of life, for the vitality of sun, water and food. Turn our appetites back to the nature in which You created us. Instill in us a hunger for both the Bread of Life, our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the natural bread you cause to spring forth from the earth. Keep us from unnatural desires for false gods, the idolatry of self, and craving for food that leads to death. Let us taste, instead, the heavenly feast.
May we remember, Master, the teachers You gave us, the saints who followed Jesus faithfully. For such You mean us to do. Let us see Your word as a light to our path, a lamp to our feet. As we study the lives of those who walked this road before us, keep our hearts open to do Your will.
We praise you for what is created, and we praise you with what has been created. This earth, our island home, resonates with praise for you. Let the birds sing, and the animals call, the seas sigh and roar, the wind trumpet and the very rocks cry out. We join with them in the voices of angels, “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna!’