Stuck at home over the past few days, or confined to barracks as my hubbie would say, due to damaged ligaments in my elbow, it has been a chance to catch up, to rest and to reflect over the past few months. In June it will be six months since I started as Interim Priest-In-Charge at St Ninians and my life has changed dramatically.
One thing that has become apparent for me is the fact that I love not being your normal priest. For a start I am not male. I am also fairly young(ish) being only 40! I do not have grey hair (due to copious amounts of blondish hair dye) and I do not spend my life covered head to toe in black. However, I do have to wear my clerical collar most days due to the fact that people would not believe I am a priest without them. And, please note, my dog collar shirts are ALWAYS black or navy. I really can’t be doing with pastels.
What else? Well I am sure that I upset a lot of people by always having my nails painted various shades of purple, red or pink – depending on the liturgical season naturally. This also matches the corresponding liturgically correct coloured eye liner as well. Of course, red lips are a must even if it does upset the Sacristan when she has to tackle stubborn long-lasting lipstick stains on the altar cloth and linen every week.
So I am not a normal stereotypical priest. Red lips, reddish blonde long hair, red nails and, of course, the red shoes. There is a story behind the fact that at most important liturgical events I am to be found wearing red shoes. Hence also the reason for this blog being called Reverently Red. I would also have loved a red dog collar shirt but felt that the Mrs Santa Claus look really wasn’t working for me. So the story.
In my home church of St Andrew’s Episcopal Church, St Andrews, Fife, the stain glass window above the Lady Chapel’s Altar depicts a beautiful, serene and virginal Mary, mother of Jesus. And she is wearing red shoes. I spent many years, every Friday morning at the Eucharist looking at that window and looking at her shoes. I am a woman, I always check out other women’s shoes and bags, sorry Guys it is a girl thing. Anyway, when I knew I was to be ordained and was planning THE outfit what else could I consider but RED shoes? If it was good enough for the mother of our Lord, it was good enough for me.
So that is where the red shoes came from. However, for my Ordination I also had to consider the underwear for the most important day of my life (apart from my wedding day and the day I had Robina my daughter). Whilst I won’t go into all the details, have to preserve a modicum of decorum after all, (I will say that, being a well rounded lady, foundation garments were prevalent) I had to consider the hosiery conundrum. Well, what else could I choose but holy tights, fishnets to the uninitiated. So fishnets have now become another calling card of mine.
From this post you can see that I take a great deal of care and attention to my appearance. Some may call me vain and proud. I call it breeding. But there is another reason that lies behind this all. If my holy order of priesthood and, by extension, the church is made accessible to one single person because they look at me, see my collar, see my nails, my lips and think to themselves, okay she may be a priest but isn’t scary, looks kind of approachable, someone who doesn’t take herself too seriously, perhaps I could talk to her, then it would have been worth it.
Jesus wore the clothes of his people, mingled with them effortlessly, was humble and down to earth. He related to them, came alongside them and walked with them which every way they were going – even if it was the wrong way. By my amour of red and holy tights, I pray that I am able to emulate my saviour and be with the people who need to hear about His love the most.
Even if it does look like I have dipped my fingers in the chalice…