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Archive for the ‘Head Covering’ Category

This past Sunday I returned to the Beachy Amish mission church.  I brought my daughter.  It went very well and people were very tolerant of my daughter crawling around the room and getting into things.  I love the singing and the group prayer and sense of community.  I wore a tichel-style covering and my jumper dress.  I felt right and good but rushed out to my car in the morning hoping my neighbors wouldn’t see me and ask questions.  F, who I’ve been exchanging emails with, was supportive and encouraging of my covering, which was nice.

After the service I went with F and N, and another church visitor back to their house for lunch and conversation.  My daughter played with their small kids and we talked about our spiritual paths and how God is working in our lives.   They are a young couple and are conservative Mennonites (and attend the mission church to help since it is so small).  The woman has Jewish roots and we are all in similar professions.

I enjoyed so much spending time with this couple and the other church visitor.  And I’m still struggling with the divorce and remarriage issue – and its very personal.  N said something very wise while I was there, the gist of which was that God will show me what I am supposed to do and make it okay, that I don’t need to join or not join a group based on intellectually what is acceptable to me or repugnant, but to be open to growing in my understanding.  So I don’t need to react like, “how horrible that this group would judge my situation or my marriage,” rather if I’m meant to be there, God will find a way to make it all right.  And if I’m not meant to be there, I’ll know that too.

I feel comfortable with (and inspired by) the people at this church – their faith is so strong and put in practice every day.  I love that.  It feels good to be around people of strong faith who live their faith.

But, I’m also feeling like the Orthodox church has more to offer me – more concrete practices, structure, depth of tradition and literature.  I am feeling more drawn in that direction right now.  Maybe it is another stepping stone, or maybe not.  I am feeling a clear leading that I want to be Baptized and that it should be by immersion.  I don’t think it would be enough to attend a church but not be Baptized.

For now I am going to continue to attend both churches, alternating as I am able.

 

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It’s been a couple of weeks … here is what is going on now.

I am 100% clear that I need God in my life.

My husband and I have had numerous discussions about where we are heading individually and as a family.  He still feels like Buddhism has been very helpful to him and he’s not ready to jump ship.  I have been encouraging him to read Theravada Buddhist literature (because Zen isn’t doing it for him) and gave him some links to Theravada Buddhist temples in our area but I don’t know that he’ll actually visit any.  That’s okay.  I understand that he has to walk his path on his own, just as I walk my own path.

But I’ve also told him I need his help and support on my spiritual journey.  I feel self-conscious sometimes wanting to talk about God because I know he is an agnostic.  I want to do family prayer or grace before meals – he feels put on the spot – so we’re working on a compromise where I would lead prayer (so he’s not on the spot) but he will help me remember and hold an intentional space.

I was all set to visit a liberal Mennonite church nearby last Sunday and then my daughter had a raging fever and I stayed home to nurse her.  So she was sick and then I was sick… but finally we’re both better.  So then I was planning to visit the church this Sunday but last night I was online and found some recent sermons online at the church’s website and decided I didn’t want to visit after all.  The sermon talked about scripture but also brought in politics… a lot.  And I just cannot attend a church where politics (even — or maybe especially liberal peace politics) are a major topic of discussion.  I don’t have a good explanation for this – but these sort of sermons sound to me like “you have to be an activist to fit in here and to be a good person and to do God’s will” and I just disagree.  Don’t get me wrong, I am glad there are activists in the world – we all owe them a debt of gratitude for the work they do in the world.  Political activism just is not my work.  And it doesn’t have to be.  Unfortunately, I’ve had a number of bad experiences with Activists who feel that it has to be everyone’s work… or else you are wrong/bad/stupid/evil/an oppressor.  But for me, I have to focus my energy on what I can immediately control (my own life and how I treat the people around me) or else focus on accepting what I can’t control and what is in God’s hands.  A woman online I know described this as the difference between an Activist orientation and a Quietist orientation.  I have the latter.   (and I’ve rewritten this paragraph like 4 times now to try to make it less offensive, but it may still offend some, and if so, I’m really sorry.)

So instead I decided to put myself out there… and attend an Amish-Mennonite / Beachy Amish mission church I had learned about online several months ago.  I was scared to go because its in a really bad part of town and I didn’t know what the people would be like, and I knew it was very small and of course it doesn’t have a website or anything like that… but I went, and it was really nice.  It was very small, maybe 10-12 people there, some of whom were children.  The people were very friendly though and I loved the a capella singing (which was done sitting and without all that stand-up/sit down business that feels artificial to me) and the simple sermon.  There was a Sunday school portion and a second sermon which was really long – and these parts were less compelling… but in general I felt really comfortable there.  The people were down-to-earth.  Women were in plain dress.  Everyone there spoke with great love and faith in God.  It was inspiring.  I also liked that there was space during the service for people to pray out loud together and to reflect upon the sermons.  After the service I talked to several of the women there and felt comfortable to share parts of my story and to explain why I was there.  They were very supportive.

My thoughts are still in a jumble about my experiences this morning.  Here are some things I want to say…  I really don’t understand what this is all about.  I keep feeling myself drawn to conservative Christian churches.  This is odd for me on so many levels.  I am (and always have been) politically and socially liberal.  I am (still) not a Christian (yet?).  I think of Jesus as a great prophet and teacher but a savior?  These ideas are still foreign to me.  I am not the sort of person who interprets things literally, for me, most things must be taken in context.  I know these things… and yet, I still find myself drawn to the idea of a simple faith and a simple life.  I want to rely on God.  I want freedom from the things that keep me running in circles – my doubts and fears, my intellectual compulsion to “figure everything out” and accompanying frustration when this is fruitless, and I want to believe that God is with us in every moment and that He has a plan.

I feel naive writing this… its not that I want to put my head in the sand and cultivate an immature or unreasoned faith.  It’s that I know what doubt and disconnection is like and I know it doesn’t lead to greater compassion and love for me.  So there is a part of me, that is growing stronger by the day, that is thinking “well, f*** it.  Even if I don’t believe it (yet), maybe I should just go with it, because what do I know anyway, and clearly what I’m doing now isn’t getting me anywhere.”

And, that’s what happened with my involvement with that Buddhist group – which ended up not being such a great group, however, they inadvertently helped me find my way back to faith in God… so maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing after all.  Maybe God knows what he’s doing here, even if I don’t.

And God bless my husband… who is still supportive… even though he doesn’t get it.  He has strong faith in his own way.

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I’ve been visiting my mother in my hometown for the last several days.  It is good to be here – I am getting a much needed period of rest and renewal as my mother is helping considerably with my daughter.  The best thing about my trip thus far has been reconnecting with two friends – one relatively new who reminds me of my unencumbered college and graduate school days, and one a lifelong friend and kindred spirit.

I am learning some things on my trip.  My childhood friend is reminding me yet again about the importance of faith.  She is encouraging of me and inspiring to me.  She is my daughter’s Godmother because I admire her dedication to faith.  She recently left the Catholic Church and has joined a United Church of Christ congregation.  She is fired up about it and her pastor.  I asked if I could attend services with her tomorrow morning and she was elated to share her church with me.  She even suggested that I might talk to her pastor if I am interested.  I’m really looking forward to the service and to see how it feels to me.

Since talking with this friend on Wednesday I have been praying consistently before bed.  She inspired me to return to this practice and it feels very good and natural right now.  At the moment I am headcovering while praying (and will tomorrow for church) but not the rest of the time.

With my newer friend I am cutting loose a little.  I let my mother babysit and went to a party she threw.  I had a great time and really liked her friends.  It reminded me a great deal of my former life – those days I thought I was missing because my life is currently consumed by Mommyhood… and I found that although it was fun to unwind and be irresponsible for a few hours, I was happy to return to my settled life.  I do not regret anything about my life.  I love my husband and I love my daughter.  It was a great blessing for me to have this opportunity to be reminded about how much I have and how little I would desire to trade my life for another.

My daughter has been blossoming during her time here and is starting to comprehend language and play interactive games.  She has been a joy to observe.  I was feeling a bit disconnected from her before the trip and now I feel close again.

I am understanding that what I need is more balance in my life.  I need to be Mommy and also a person alone.  My marriage needs times when we are a couple alone.  I have let my interests fall too much to the wayside.  I don’t know the solution yet, but when I return home I intend to pay attention to finding balance in my life and life-roles.

Unfortunately being here around so many old friends and acquaintances (and my mother) I have indulged in a fair amount of gossip that I am not proud of and regret.  I do not want to be this person.  Tomorrow I am going to endeavor to practice mindfulness and right speech.  Tomorrow I intend to refrain from gossip and judgmental speech.  One day may seem like a small goal, but I need to start small.  This may be a hard one for me.

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Headcovering

I’ve been avoiding writing this post.  I know that I am anonymous here and that there are only 2 or 3 people currently reading my blog (:waves:) and that this blog is mostly just for me to sort through my thoughts and track my wanderings as I explore my spiritual leanings, but still, this is on the internet and, well, sounds crazy.

So, at the risk of sounding nuttier than I already sounds in my previous blog entries, here goes.

I have been drawn to religious headcovering for several years.  It started out as a vague interest in the Amish because I have always been interested in simple living and homesteading (still am!).  I felt drawn to plain dress and stumbled upon Quaker Jane.  Isabel (Quaker Jane)’s story of feeling called to plain dress (and bonnets) and becoming a Quaker fascinated me and I found her style very appealing.  I read her site for several months and then pushed my interest aside because it seemed bizarre and random.

In the last year or two I have been increasingly drawn to images of women in plain dress, modest dress, and wearing religious headcoverings, primarily but not exclusively Christian styles.  About a year ago I decided to indulge my interest and experiment with buying and wearing some headcoverings.  I also bought a couple of modest dresses (a cape dress and several jumpers).  I love the jumpers and feel very “right” when wearing them – more grounded, peaceful, and feminine.  I wear them only occasionally, mostly when I know I won’t be leaving the house, because I feel very self-conscious.  My feelings about the headcoverings are even stronger.

It is hard to explain and doesn’t make much sense but basically these feelings consist of the following:

  • Feeling drawn to images of women wearing headcoverings and plain or modest dress
  • A vague urge that I should be also be wearing a headcovering
  • A physical sensation on the top of my head and hyper awareness – sort of like feeling naked

When I explore these thoughts and feelings I am coming up with the sense that

  • This is about spirituality (not fashion, comfort, etc)
  • This is about being reminded of God’s presence in my life and my own humility

When I do wear a headcovering that I feel comfortable in (mostly kerchiefs, scarfs, and snoods) I feel more spiritual, more grounded, more centered in myself, and calmer.  When I pray wearing a covering I feel more focused, authentic, and connected to something.

Sometimes I am convinced that this is a calling from God or the Universe to a spiritual practice and sometimes I think that I’m just very weird and for some reason these things feel good to me.  Sometimes I think its all in my head.  I have wondered if there is simply something physiological about having something on one’s head that is calming or helps with focus (as Sikh’s attest).  There might be something to that.  Some Pagans I know suggested that it might be a past life habit that I am remembering.  That idea is not ringing true for me.  It feels like a calling.

I’ve been resisting/struggling with the desire to cover for over a year now because it does not make sense.  I do not have an explanation and that bothers me.  I don’t know how I would explain to someone why I am dressed that way because I’m not part of group who practices headcovering for specific doctrinal or cultural reasons.  Also it draws attention to me, which is something I am very uncomfortable about.

However, this urge has persisted for some time and is not showing signs of abating.  I am slowly coming to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter why I am feeling the way I am and that I should just go with it.

Last night I was in a bad place because of the anxiety I’ve been dealing with lately and I decided to pray.  Through my prayers I came to the conclusion that I should wear a headcovering today, that I could commit to just one day and see how it goes.  So today I am wearing a headscarf and even left the house.  A friend of mine came over and we had a long talk and I decided to disclose my struggle and confusion about this leaning with her.  She had something very interesting and affirming to say.

My friend suggested that our bodies/cells have memory and a way of understanding/”thinking” that informs but is distinct from our brains.  She has a background in Chinese medicine and had read some stories about organ transplants that gave this idea to her.  She said that there may be something that my body knows that my head doesn’t.  Maybe there is a calming influence to wearing a head cover and my body knows that that is what I need right now.  She said that this does not invalidate the God/calling hypothesis, because a loving God or spiritual energy would certainly be connected to everything else including my body and sending a message in answer to my current needs.  Regardless of whether the source is internal or external I should listen to the message.  And it doesn’t have to make intellectual sense, because this may not be an intellectual matter.

I found her thoughts and her acceptance affirming and encouraging.  I feel very grateful.

I’m going to close with one last link to an interesting perspective.  Anna at veiledglory.wordpress.com suggests in her video (headcovering-as-podvig) that headcovering can be viewed as a spiritual practice (using the Buddhist meaning) that some (but not all) people may be called to due to their particular spiritual ills.  A practice requires mindfulness, effort, and sacrifice.  It may not be clear why an individual is called to a particular spiritual practice or another, but every spiritual practice is a medicine for a particular ill or restlessless of the spirit.  What Anna says strikes me as true and applicable to what I am experiencing.

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