Greetings, fellow congregants,
Whenever I participate in something meaningful, I wear jewelry that reminds me of where I come from and where I’m going. I am a big believer that what we wear—the things we carry—hold meaning.
Some of us may wear rings as a symbol of our commitment to another, or a cross as a reminder of our faith. Some of us wore pantsuits to the polls in 2016, or pearls as we watched the first Madame Vice President be sworn in. As you may know, Kamala Harris often wears pearls as an homage to her college sorority, one of the oldest Black sororities in the country, Alpha Kappa Alpha. The things we carry remind us of who we are and whose we are.
For our annual meeting, I wore jewelry inspired by the many female role models in my life.
I placed rings on my fingers that belonged to my Grandma Joyce, a strong leader who was once a member of Plymouth Church UCC, Seattle’s oldest protestant congregation. I wore pearl earrings from my mother, who very intentionally chose not to baptize me in any faith, and fully supported me in my own religious explorations.
I encircled my right wrist with a wooden rosary bracelet bearing the image of Pope Francis, which I acquired on my visit to the Vatican in 2014. Though Catholicism is not my faith, it was the religion of my mother’s parents, who may have secretly baptized me in the kitchen sink when I was a sick baby. I am reminded of their steadfast faith, which, though different from my own, informed my understanding of life-long commitments to God and neighbor. I also wore the rosary as a reminder that Pope Francis, beloved as he may be, still leads a church that excludes women from many important roles. I hope in my lifetime all faith formations grow to invite women, men, and everyone who does not fit neatly into a checkbox gender category, to lay leader and clergy positions.
Last but not least, I sported a cryptogram necklace from La Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona. No matter which way you add up the numbers, they equal 33, the year of Jesus’ crucifixion. I will probably always be more interested in Jesus’ life than his death, but this necklace reminds me we are all called to walk our own paths. Thank you for walking with me.
Speaking of jewelry, get your beads and masks ready for our very own Mardi Gras Fest this Tuesday Feb. 16. The traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold symbolize justice, faith, and power, respectively. Apart from looking pretty, we can think of the (virtual) distribution of carnival necklaces as a symbolic sharing of justice, faith, and power. As the mixture of beads reminds us, we cannot claim to value justice without sharing power; we are better able to redistribute power when we are guided by our faith.
All are welcome to join in an evening of music, stories, and poetry. It’s not too late to participate! E-mail Dawn if you have a sung or spoken talent you would like to share.
After Mardi Gras, join us for an Ash Wednesday evening service on Feb. 17. As we look to the Lenten season ahead, I am reminded of the Coco Chanel quote on accessorizing an outfit. Coco suggested “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take off at least one thing.” This is how I’m choosing to think about Lent this year. Not a complete makeover, just an invitation to let go of one heavy adornment that does not currently serve me. In jewelry this might be the removal of a second bracelet; in faith this might be the removal of a self-defeating thought, and/or the addition of a new spiritual practice.
Finally, we know the hottest accessory of the season is a vaccine card! I am doing pushups every day in preparation for a shot-selfie later this summer, and I encourage you to do the same. Thank you to Mirabelle for sharing this link to Howard University for scheduling a vaccine in DC. I know the rollout of Covid vaccines has been frustrating, to say the least. I am happy to share any useful information on appointments that you send me.
I’ll leave you with some questions to ponder in the coming weeks:
- What things do you carry as a reminder of who you are and whose you are?
- Do you have a favorite family heirloom, and if so, what meaning does it hold for you?
- What metaphorical adornments might you let go of in the coming season of Lent?
- What spiritual practices might you dig into?
In peace and community,