Saturday, January 3, 2009

Forefeast of the Nativity

I apologize for being away for so long. Busy-ness with school ended around the 15th, just in time for Christmas and end of year work busy-ness. I really tried to pare down our holiday plans to avoid major stress. But it didn't work :( This was probably the worst Christmas I have ever had in my life.

But, thankfully, I have my Nativity on the Old Calendar coming up next week! I really like having extended family Christmas separate from Church feast Nativity. There are some things I that I miss about being on the New Calendar, but Christmas on 12/25 with the rest of America is not one of them. Divine Liturgy, the hymns, breaking the fast with parish family and everything else will be very nice, Lord willing.

And happy civil new year! I love making New Year's resolutions. It is actually one of my favorite things to do. And I will share one of them here. I have resolved to return to full time covering when outdoors as a firm commitment. This may seem strange since I have been covering this way de facto for the last 6 months or so. But in my heart, I wasn't committed to doing it everyday. Now, I am at a place where I want to keep my hair private from now on.  Before, I was getting up in the morning and deciding whether to cover or not; now I have accepted that I don't really want people to see my hair any more than other parts of my body that are deserving of special modesty. The only exception might be a bit of side fringe, bang or ends of my hair showing out of coverings at times.

This is exciting. Despite the fact that I am posting this on the internet :) I have also decided not make any big pronouncements to the people in my life about this. They have seen me cover off and on for years. Now it will just be more on than off. 

May God give me the grace and strength to answer this call in a way that brings me closer to Him and makes the living sacrifice of my body more holy and pleasing to Him. Amen.

photo caption: Young Orthodox matrons at market, kerchief on woman at right is for partial concealment of face...
Village: Ohrid
Date: 1962

Friday, November 28, 2008

Hello all!

I am still around and I want to get back to blogging! But I am trying to stay focused until the end of the semester. I work full time and go to school full time, plus I have a family. That leaves time for little else.

But in a couple weeks I will be done until next semester. Until then enjoy this poem by Phyllis Wheatley (check out that head covering!).


ATTEND my lays, ye ever honour'd nine,
Assist my labours, and my strains refine;
In smoothest numbers pour the notes along,
For bright Aurora now demands my song.
Aurora hail, and all the thousand dies,
Which deck thy progress through the vaulted skies:
The morn awakes, and wide extends her rays,
On ev'ry leaf the gentle zephyr plays;
Harmonious lays the feather'd race resume,
Dart the bright eye, and shake the painted plume.
Ye shady groves, your verdant gloom display

To shield your poet from the burning day:
Calliope awake the sacred lyre,
While thy fair sisters fan the pleasing fire:
The bow'rs, the gales, the variegated skies
In all their pleasures in my bosom rise.

See in the east th' illustrious king of day!
His rising radiance drives the shades away--
But Oh! I feel his fervid beams too strong,
And scarce begun, concludes th' abortive song.

Friday, September 12, 2008

So Why Cover? part 2

Sts. Alexander (340), John (595), and Paul the New (784), patriarchs of Constantinople
August 30 Old Style
Okay, I decided to start wearing something on my head for church services at least. I had experimented with scarves and wraps before, so I had lots of fabric to work with.

The first Sunday I wore a scarf, I immediatly felt different. The church that I went to at the time was very...cerebral. The worship space was beige and sterile. The focus of worship was listening the sermon. The simple act of doing something external as a gesture of devotion was a personal revolution. It felt so right. 

Along with headcovering came the issue of modesty. The Apostle Paul had discussed this too as worship. This raised more questions: what was modest dress in modern America? Long skirts and long sleeves? I really didn't know how to approach it.

But over all I felt I was going in a newer, deeper direction spiritually. Even though I couldn't fully explain it, this was not merely about dress. It was about how I moved in the world and about an awareness of spiritual things unseen. It was about possessing or even harnessing the power of my sexuality (by God's grace) as a spiritual force and redirecting it. The headcovering is a sign of authority or power. Of course this was years before I would begin to learn about the life of monastics who are the ultimate (but not the sole) example of this concept and what the Church has always known about the power of offering our bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God as a spiritual act of worship.

I found a group of women online who also believed that headcovering and modesty were important to their own religious practice. There I "met" Alana. And Alana introduced me to Orthodox Christianity.

What was that line about angels?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

St. Moses the Black

August 28 Old Style

Today is the feast of our Father among the saints Moses the Strong (or the Black or the Ethiopian). Many consider him the patron of African descendants who have come into the Church in these more recent years. 

Pray to God for us O Holy Moses, for we fervently flee unto thee, the speedy helper and intercessor of our souls!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

So Why Cover? part one

Martyr Anthusa
St. Poemen the Great
August 27 Old Style

The reasons why I began covering are not the reasons I cover now. It has been 17 years since I first took a piece of fabric and wrapped it around my head. I did not encounter 1 Corinthians 12 until much, much later. For this blog, I will focus mostly on the reasons that I have covered in church and out for much of the past 7 years.

"For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.  Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God. "

A few years ago, I got stuck in 1 Corinthians. I simply could not get past what Paul was saying about headcoverings. I went to a church that took the inerrancy of the Bible seriously. So what was I supposed to make of this stuff about headcoverings especially since Paul was so insistent about them?

I went to the elders of my church and got two different answers: one said "It's cultural" and the other said, "I think we should be pulling out the headcoverings every time I read that verse." So, bottom line was they were no help. 

The thing about that verse is that the Apostle Paul appeals to the fact that there are angels to consider in all of this. If headcovering was cultural, why would angels who are not bound by culture or time care about them? And if they cared in 40 AD, why would they stop caring now?

Since no one was going to tell me not to wear a scarf, I decided to try it out and see how it felt. That's when things really started to happen...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Coming soon

Afterfeast of the Dormition.
Apostle Thaddeus of the Seventy
Martyr Bassa of Edessa and her sons Theogonius, Agapius, and Pistus
August 21 Old Style

So I have written about what my covering doesn't mean. Next I will put together some thoughts on it does mean, at least to me.

But in the meantime take in the joy of this picture.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Closeted Coverer

Afterfeast of the Dormition
Prophet Samuel
August 20
Old Style

So Mary made a comment in response to one of my posts about whether I wanted to be inconspicuous in my covering or not. I have been thinking aobut it ever since. I am not ashamed of covering but I don't want to be associated with belief systems that do not represent what my covering is about. For example, I am not all that into headship as conceived by some Christians who cover. My covering isn't so much about my husband and his authority over me. Sure, I believe in submission. But I believe that submission is the way of all Christians regardless of gender. Wives are to submit to their husbands and husbands are to lay down their lives for their wives. There is a mutuality in laying aside one's preferences and even one's needs. I would not want my headcover to convey a different concept.

I am also not of the belief that all women have to cover or even believe as I do about covering. One of the most freeing things about being Orthodox is the acknowlegement that all members of the flock are not called to the same thing at the same time. Maturation in Christ happens at a natural pace, aided by the general guidlines and expectations of the Church. Economia can be a beautiful thing.

I don't want to be plain. Sure, I believe that Christian women are taught to dress modestly and without excessive display of wealth. But Orthodoxy has made me aware of the importance of beauty to the human soul. God's creation is beautiful. Our worship is beautiful and pleasing to the senses. Being able to replicate beauty is a reflection of the image of God in us. I'd like to continue choosing colors that suit me and putting my clothing together in a manner that pleases and flatters me. I don't feel that I have to abandon my appreciation of beauty in dress because I cover.

Lastly, I like to have a drink...or two every now and again. I like having a good time, laughing, watching movies, going to rock or reggae concerts. We fast a good bit in the Orthodox Church but we also feast. I am also a budding activist. I wonder if some people will see my covering and believe that these things don't go together. But to me, there is no contradiction.

So in the end, perhaps what I have written displays my own prejudices about women (more especially Christain women) that cover. Perhaps this is what I think of when I see a woman in a white lace chapel veil and it is wrong of me to draw such conclusions. Perhaps I need to get out of other people's heads and deeper into my heart. I am still working it out...