"Put your shoes on, Lucy, you're a big girl now." I remember having this song sung to me as a very young child and proudly responding by actually putting on those shoes -- and then eventually being able to dress myself -- and dress myself -- and dress myself. Why, I got so into this activity that I took it even a step farther -- playing "dress ups" became one of my favorite childhood games and, regrettably, still remains one of my frequent pastimes. Why, just last weekend my husband and I went to Florida to attend a nephew's wedding. There was the rehearsal dinner, the day of the wedding brunch to attend, then the actual wedding and reception. Much time and energy and, yes, even money were spent in preparation. I'd talked to my mother and sister numerous times on the phone over the past month discussing what we were each wearing and if that wasn't enough, my precious husband had to attend a private fashion show put on by me, myself, and I before each event to be sure I had actually made the right choice. Pitiful! It was important to put on our best foot forward -- or was it? "Clothes make the man" -- or woman -- or do they? "It matters what people think" -- are you sure?
My mind drifts back to a meeting I attended in New Orleans a few years ago. As I walked towards the bus, there he stood, the man robed in brown. He turned and I saw for the first time his grease-painted face. It was startling white. There seemed to be a gladness, a sadness about this clown who called himself Brother Hereticus. As I came closer, I recognized John. I felt a little awkward and a little "distancing" wanted to crop up in me. Was he being serious or sacrilegious? I wasn't quite sure. All I knew was that it made me a little uneasy, so chicken that I am, I just stood and watched and didn't get too close, except when one of John's big hugs would catch me off guard.
I remember him silently sitting near the front of the cathedral. I remember him silently standing in line at lunch and then sitting silently at one of the dinner tables. I remember him sitting silently at one of our later services. I remember him silently standing in the downstairs hallway giving out a gift. I couldn't avoid him. He's my brother in Christ and friend. His hand grasped mine and felt a present being left. I looked down. It was a large primitive iron nail. I looked up and met John's happy -- sad eyes and said, "Thank you!"
John -- alias Brother Hereticus -- was willing to be a "Fool for Christ" tangibly, so literally. His presence at the meeting was a profound blessing. He cut very close to the edge. It made my heart cry out, "Hey Lucy, how far are you willing to go out on a limb for our Lord and for your brothers and sisters in Christ?"
I remember one day gazing into the mirror in my dorm room after brushing my teeth and noticed a big white streak going through the side of my hair. My first reaction was, "Oh, dear! I'm aging right before my very eyes." Then I smiled and then I burst out laughing. Brother Hereticus had left his mark on me! Some of his grease paint had rubbed off. Pilgrim, have you ever had any grease paint hugged on your soul -- another's actions have made an indelible Christ-like mark on your psyche?
That total abandonment -- that forgetting what people think -- being more concerned about what Jesus thinks. Being willing to go the extra mile where the Lord is calling you -- possibly closer to the edge, away from your comfort zone. Help! That can be scary! Much prayer and wisdom and discernment is needed. Much loving trust in the Lord is required. The modern day slogan which has been placed on bracelets and worn by many of the youth, WWJD -- What would Jesus do? -- would be a grand fashion statement for us, the more mature, to adopt. Aw -- but would it blend with my gold bracelets?! Pitiful, Lucy - Lord, forgive.
I love the story of King David and his stripping to the waist and dancing in total abandonment in front of the Ark of the Covenant as it was brought in to Jerusalem. Talk about lack of decorum -- in fact, it really made his wife upset -- she thought it was totally inappropriate his behavior. Sadly, she missed the point -- the praise point. Regrettably, I sometimes miss the praise point, too. By nature, I'm a Rule Book follower and regrettably it is not the Golden Rule Book I'm referring to, but rather a societal one, the one that tells you the correct action for the correct activity in the correct attire. Pitiful. The bottom line is sometimes I'm a chicken! A chicken for the Lord -- how well does that fly? I don't think so. The Good Samaritan when he crossed over and helped -- Chicken? I don't think so. Mary Magdalene as she ran to tell the disciples, "Our Lord has risen" -- chicken? I don't think so! Stephen as he prayed while being stoned -- chicken? I don't think so! Apostles -- Missionaries -- Saints -- Committed Christians -- chicken? I don't think so, Pilgrim. Our Lord is fine tuning each one of us -- as we say more and more "yes" to his call. And the finished product will be -- chickens? I don't think so.(c)2002