Monday, September 23, 2013

Dressy Dressy Dress

"I don't think I have ever seen you not wearing a dress" ~ Jeff

A friend and colleague said this to me at the Hammo Youth Gathering the other week, which is held at Hammonasset State Park.  I was appropriately dressed in jeans and a hoodie since we were camping and while I sure that Jeff has seen me in jeans before, it has probably been almost two years.  

Yep over the last few years a strange thing has happened to me: I went from a girl always most comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt to a woman that wears dresses most days.  

This is even stranger when you take into account that for many years, pretty much from middle school through college, I refused to wear a dress other than for the occasional appropriate event, like prom.  My mom dubbed me "the jean queen" as I wore jeans to school, to work, to church.  I wore jeans in the middle of winter and in the summer,at least jean shorts.  Shortly before I graduated from seminary I bought 2 dresses to wear to my graduation and my sister's wedding, and those two dresses pretty much doubled the number of dresses in my closet.  And that was pretty much the state of my wardrobe for the 3 years that followed.  

But for Easter of 2011, I decided to wear a dress instead of clerics for worship.  Easter was fairly late in the year and it was years since it was warm enough for me to wear an Easter dress as it is pretty much never warm enough to wear a dress on Easter in Minnesota.    

And I realized that I felt more comfortable wearing a dress than clerics in leading worship.  That summer I started to wear dresses on occasion, or skirts and blouses.  Though by fall I switched back to slacks and clerics.  But the thing is, I really hate wearing slacks.

Then in early winter of 2012 I went to the outlet mall with the intent to buy a black knee length dress to be a bridesmaid's dress for a wedding.  Well that day I bought 5 dresses, only one was black.  Shortly after that I started wearing those dresses not just on Sundays but during the week too.  And then I started visiting consignment shops, and the number of dresses in my closet has exploded.  In fact I recently counted, I have over 50 dresses, it is a little disturbing.

But not just my closet has changed over the past few years.  Along with the change in wardrobe, my personality and outlook on life has changed.  I no longer feel like a kid, but an actual adult (though I'm still a young adult).  I feel more confident in who I am, including my pastoral authority, something that a piece of plastic in an ill-fitting button down shirt never gave me. I have claimed my beauty, though I don't think it come from my physical appearance, but that confidence and authority I possess. When wearing a dress I feel prepared to take on the day and to enjoy all that it has to offer, much more so than when I wear jeans.  I know that I stand taller and straighter in a dress than in jeans, slacks, or even a skirt.

But probably the best part of wearing a dress:  I know that even when I'm having a bad day I will receive at least one complement on my dress or that I look good in it.  And that will bring a smile to my face.

So I guess it is time for me to clean out my closet of all the slacks, since I won't be wearing them again anytime soon. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Nobody was Killed in the Making of the Post

This past Sunday, I put the lives of the members of Bethlehem on the line, I sent them out into the neighborhood to interview people about what they like most about living here and how we can make the community a better place to live.  

Okay so I don't think anyone was really ever in danger, as I am more worried about being attacked by an animal in Georgetown than being attacked by a human.  But to hear some of the hesitation when this was first discussed a few weeks prior in worship, you would have thought every neighbor has a gun and will shoot at someone before having a stranger step on their property.  

And yes it is natural to be hesitant when going door-to-door to do anything, whether selling Girl Scout cookies or talking about our faith.  And I'm quite positive that the number one prayer that is said by a religious person going door-to-door is "Dear God, please don't let them be home."  (Meanwhile the number one prayer by the person inside is "Dear God, please don't let them realize that I'm home.") But we weren't talking about our faith, we weren't going to invite people to worship or to try and convert people to our faith.  We were going simply to ask people about the community.  

Not so shocking, worship attendance was a little low on Sunday (in all honesty I was worried only 5 people would show up for worship), but still the majority of us went out to the neighborhood, while the rest stayed back and prepared lunch.  We were only gone about a half hour and most pairs only talked to 3-4 people, but the attitude of everyone when we returned was quite different.

Instead of the trepidation and a bit of fear many of us had before we left, people came back excited. Conversations flowed as people shared stories about who they talked to and ideas on how we can do ministry in the community.  "Hey, let's get a weed whacker so we can take care of the weeds on the side of the road that the town has been neglecting." "Can we get a basketball hoop at the church so the neighborhood kids can play in the parking lot instead of on the street?" "We already have a great relationship with the Georgetown Cultural Center, but how can we foster that and make it better?" 

There was an energy at Bethlehem afterwards as we shared communion and lunch, one that will carry on for the next weeks and months as we discern our guiding principles for the congregation.  

And there was even a willingness to go door-to-door again, because by some great miracle, we all returned alive.