I've wrestled with head covering back and forth off and on for years and years. I was first charmed by the order of Swiss Reformed Deaconesses (think protestant nuns) who were in the church were I grew up. I liked the simplicity of their uniforms. I was intrigued by the idea of a prayer veiling during my early 20's, and tried it out at home "in my prayer closet". It felt right. I was ready to jump in whole-hog when I was a part of a Mennonite group, later in my twenties, but in so doing, found myself running in the opposite direction from the rest of the women in our congregation, much to my sadness. I liked what I was doing but I didn't like feeling "weird".
Enter Orthodox Christianity ca. 1998: There is a tradition of wearing a head covering, based on the Scripture, during Church worship. But barely anyone practices that here in America. It's almost a ludicrous "convert thing", silly American women trying to look like Russian Babushkas, or semi-monastic wannabes. But there was enough of a head covering element that I did not feel too strange. In good conformist fashion I traded in my doilies and caps for things like paisley head scarves and mantillas. A gal's gotta fit in, after all. And besides, everyone at my first Orthodox parish knew me back in my Mennonite days and I figured they figured I was just weird.
So where does this urge to cover my head (full time even outside of "Church") come from? Why can I never get this off my back, or let it go? Is it a God thing? That seems the height of hubris, when I can think of many baser motives that might be pushing me.
The wrestling with this question and not resting about it, however, almost defines me. Should I? Shouldn't I? What's my real motive? I don't have to but I want to...or I want to want to. Unless I don't want to. And back and forth. Basically, I want to but I want it to be easy instead of hard. I wish I were in a situation where everyone else were dong it. Where it was normal. But I'm not, and it's not.
What is this about for me? Am I obeying/disobeying a Scriptural mandate? Tradition? A pious custom? Am I using religion as an excuse to do what I want to naturally do anyways? What does it all mean to me? (rhetorical questions)
On any given day, my answer to these questions differs. Depending on what? My mood? The weather? My need for privacy or a sense of "modesty"? My desire to "not be weird"?
Does feeling "a call to cover my head" all boil down to an urge to be "different" and to stand out from the crowd? Perhaps I just like scarves and lacy things? Could it be that simple? Perhaps I want to sort of stick it to an anti-feminine culture that would tell me that in order to be a "real woman" I have to be more like a man.
Maybe I just like Fiddler on the Roof and the Mrs. Bennet look (Pride and Prejudice, y'all)?
Maybe the answer to all of these questions is "all of the above".
But I think underneath the waffling lie some very important questions that I'm asking every time I encounter another human being with whom I am in community: Will you still love and accept me if I cover? What if you don't like my reasons for covering? What if my reasons for covering offend you?
What if it's as simple as the fact that I like scarves sometimes? Or that I'm broken, and I tend to make everything about "religion"? What if I'm really feeling like I need to literally obey 1 Cor. 11 and the "pray without ceasing" bit?
Because the kicker is: When I can simply put on that scarf and go about my day, for some reason I'm more prayerful...at least in those moments when I'm not worrying about my scarf.
Broken?...methinks me is.