Saturday, October 16, 2010

The One With The Collar, Part 3

(parts One and Two)

Scenes From A Day, Downtown

Collar on for a protest.
I don't hate putting it on,
it feels like a privilege,
something to look forward to now.

I park downtown, walk several blocks.
Some people try not to look 
like they're looking.
Some people look.
A woman 
in a collar,
walking down the street,
it's still a new thing.

At the protest,
I'm the only collar.
Which means I get my picture taken,
a lot,
which is not why I wear it, exactly,
at the same time,
it is.

A white Christian is here,
taking a stand.

At lunch, later.
The table full of men 
in matching blue shirts
stares at me as I walk in.
As I fill up my soda,
a young man asks me,
"Are you really a priest?"
"I'm a minister, yes."
His friend, a young woman, asks,
"So if you are priest, 
does that make you a priestess?"
I smile.  "No, not in my tradition."
We talk about the UCC,
I invite them to church
(when did I become that person?).
My lunch partner, Crafty, says
that me just walking around
in my collar
blows people's preconceptions.

After lunch,
I walk down the 16th street mall,
heading to meet my cielo.
On the corner, 
a homeless man selling the street paper,
one folded like a pirate's hat on his head,
says something to me I don't quite hear:
"...somethingsomething donation."
I turn and pat my pockets, "Sorry, man,
I don't have any cash."
"No no,"  he says, "a donation for you."
And he hands me a folded dollar bill.
"For your church," he says,
"God bless you."
I'm blown away.
It's been a hard week.
Much struggling and questioning
of my vocation.
And here is Jesus, 
giving me a dollar for my church.
"Thank you," I say, smiling at him,
"Thank you, and God bless you."

And on I walk down the mall.
Some people make eye contact,
smile and nod,
others look away.
No one, though,
does what a lady did a few months ago:
in the grocery store,
I turned into the aisle
where the woman was talking to
her toddler in the shopping cart,
discussing cheese.
She spots me/collar.
She says to her son,
"We're done here,"
and turns, and flees.

Back to yesterday,
walking up the block on Broadway
collar still on,
very drunk gentleman
holding a very tall beer can
"Oh man, I didn't go to church,
and now you're chasing me down."
I say, "No man, I don't chase anybody."
He says, "Aw, too bad, too bad."
I chuckle to myself, and to my cielo,
the things people think they have to say
to the person in the collar.

Keep walking.
It's JT's birthday, after all,
and her present is to walk this collar
into places it might not usually go,
liberating ourselves from 
patriarchal Christian oppression
of our bodies,
and cheering for Texas
in the pizza pub.

This morning,
at ministry council,
a fellow pastor smiles at me
and tells me that sometime,
he wants to have a conversation
about my "theology of the collar."
(He was the first to "like" 
my facebook status update
about the homeless donation-giver
last night).

What would I say?
Maybe I would show him this post...