Thursday, November 20, 2008

Famine...to Feast

Okay, confession: I had another pretty negative experience with a Mennonite woman whom I know. It wasn't as major as the experience I wrote about in my last post, as I was treading fairly lightly. She isn't a covering Mennonite, though, and she was pretty dismissive when I shared with her my desire to cover. She said that her church doesn't require that they cover, and then she sort of changed the subject. I felt a little hurt, but I pressed on. I know this isn't a breezy journey.

I'd read somewhere recently where a covering woman approached a muslim woman to ask her about where she buys her clothes (hijabs, and such). I stuck the idea in the back of my mind. I do come across Muslim women fairly regularly, I suppose...at the grocery store or on various errands. I guess I just never thought much about it. We live in the city, and it's not out of the ordinary for me to run into a woman covered in hijab. I just have to be more intentional now about saying something when I do see one, providing the opportunity is there.

Well today I had one! I had to make a quick stop at my boys' pediatrician office, and there was one who walked in! Yes, I am a little shy by nature, but I'm not afraid to seize an opportunity if there is an open door.

This woman and her son walked up to the window right next to the one I was standing at. When I had finished my business at the window and had nothing left to do, you should have seen me trying to fiddle around and buy some time! If I left then, when I was done at the window, I wouldn't have an opportunity to speak to the woman in hijab (who was still at the window). So, I let the boys play with the waiting room toys for just a bit. Then, Bo-Bo had a boo-boo, so I had to go into the bathroom to change him. When I came out, there she was, sitting there filling out the form. I was poised to make my move!

"Excuse me," I said (taking it gingerly but being focused and serious at the same time. I didn't want another let down!), "I'm new to covering and just dressing more modestly, in general. Would you mind telling me where you find your clothes?"

She smiled and she was SOOOO kind! She told me that she thinks there are some shops downtown, but that she couldn't think of the names of them at the moment. She asked me for my email address and said she would talk to some people and email me whatever shop information she could gather. She went on talking for a little bit, until it was her son's turn to see the doctor. She talked to me till the very last moment, and she was obviously quite happy to talk to me. What a blessing!

I feel encouraged again.

She is a Muslim woman and took me for a Muslim, too, until I told her I was a Christian (which didn't change her level of warmth toward me...praises be!). She told me something that I've read other women say, as well. That dressing this way is not something that they are made to do, but something that they want to do...something they are compelled to do of their own free will. I say the same thing. I wouldn't for a second want anyone to think that someone made me dress this way. I am where I am because I felt led by God one day, and that since that day I've been trying to be obedient.

I need to feel comfortable, though, in the skin that I'm in. My covering has become for me, really, a sort of second "skin". I'm not entirely used to that concept yet, though. Yesterday, my hubby's father stopped by for a visit (hubby's side of the family don't usually call first...they usually just "pop in"), and when he knocked at the door, I quickly snatched my covering off, rustled my hair, and made it look as though I had just been around the house with my head 'uncovered'. I'm not sure exactly why I did this. I need to learn that it's okay if folks come by and see me with my head covered (so long as it's not hubby, for whom I usually take my cover off around the time he's due home from work). Certainly, people may begin to talk. People may begin to ask questions. And one day, I'll actually have to break it down for them. Hubby's father is not the least bit religious; you may as well say he's an atheist. He'd probably think I was out of my mind (or not...he's come to like me more in recent years, I think). At any rate, I'm looking at my behaviors and questioning them. I think it's good to be reflective about the journey.

Having been out of town this past weekend (for my father's memorial service), head uncovered most of the time, I was ready to be back home and focused once again on covering and what covering means to me. Also, I was eager to connect again with you all, who act as my supportive community in the absence of one in my day-to-day life. I've come to value you all so much --- thank you.

Ro, I thought of you one day a few days ago, when I was without my cover and found myself praying. I threw up my arms and hands and placed them over my head. I should carry a bandana around in my back pocket at all times!

Grace and peace...

3 comments:

Rosheeda said...

LOl that is exactly my intention. We have this great store here with some really cute scarves and bandanas. Since it's one of my favorite spots anyway, I figure this just gives me more reason to head back there sometime soon!

LisaM at ThoseHeadcoverings said...

In our area, I've seen many Muslim ladies and Indian ladies (who may be Muslim, Sihk or Hindu, for all I know, they all dress modestly, though I'm pretty sure it is only the Muslim ladies who cover their heads). I've always gotten a warm smile when I wear clothes that look like "theirs" - like a salwar kameez outfit (the kind that look like a dress over pants, but they match, and so does the always-there scarf called "dupatta"), or just a tunic top and a head scarf. As a matter of fact, I've gotten into more conversations with them than with what you might call "typically Canadian" looking ladies, because of that smile, that, hey, we're both dressing modestly and femininely, idea. I will say that I had a wonderfully long conversation at the park one day with a lady from the Caribbean somewhere (saying this because of her accent), because I wanted to know how she got her wrap to work so nicely. My poor old thin blond hair just doesn't seem to hold a wrap well! :) But there are others who seem to almost sneer, or avoid making eye contact. How refreshing it is to find someone - like you - who is willing to be kind and open to others! I think those good contacts far outweigh the others in the long run, especially since there are other rewards even more precious, too.

Lucy said...

Unfortunately there are a group of Mennonites who are more Protestant in nature than Anabaptist and whom look down upon Anabaptist practises such as headcovering.Its a shame.