I did something new today, a bit of an experiment if you will.
I covered my hair for church.
Before you click away thinking, “Oh my gosh…this is one of those Catholic women who always says “Blessed Sacrament” instead of Communion and has 12 kids, 6 of whom are named Mary*” please note that I am really one of those Catholics who grew up in a parish whose “choir” consisted of a guitar and a tape recorder, goes to the last possible Ash Wednesday service to avoid wearing ashes around and thinks a good beer is a religious experience.**
I didn’t wear one of those veils because a) I didn’t want to, b) I wasn’t taking this that seriously, c) I don’t have one, and d) half the reason I did this was because I pulled a hat out of my closet and thought “I need to wear this more often.”
It looks like this, but blue:
(Not my hat. Click on pic for the link)
But still. It was a hat, indoors. Which, if you’ve ever seen Mad Men, you know totally counted, at least in the 60s.
But still, it was a hat. Indoors. And although I’m a Catholic, I grew up Southern where wearing a hat inside of a building is practically anathema. Especially if you are eating. Or praying.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, let me fill you in. There’s this verse in the Bible that says:
But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. 1 Cor 11:5
Because man is made in the glory of God, but woman in the glory of man (hey don’t get mad at me – I didn’t make this stuff up). Paul goes on to say that but really, men and women aren’t independent from one another and while women are made from men (in the biblical sense, think adam and eve), really men are made from women (in the other biblical sense, think baby making) and then doesn’t really draw a real conclusion.
What can you do? It was a real guy writing real letters and sometimes he doesn’t always make sense. Like this post.
So anyway, women in the Catholic Church were required to cover their head during mass. Come the 1960s where flowers and rainbows and general respect for society as we know it were all thrown about, the rule changed. Women could go bareheaded into mass.
But some women decided to keep this practice, citing reasons of modesty, humility, familiarity (though really…it was like 50 years ago, you haven’t gotten used to not doing it yet?) and so I wanted to give it a try to see what all the fuss was about.
Not because I’m into patriarchy and sexism and feeling like women should be hidden away and embarrassed to be themselves. But because I believe its important to try new spiritual practices. In the same way that meditation, yoga, prayer flags, Bible studies, and Mary Oliver’s poems have all found their way into my spiritual life at one point or another. I wanted to see if covering my hair would change the way I prayed, if it would help me concentrate more or make me less worried about how my hair looked (ha! if you know me in real life you know that me brushing my hair is as close as I get to styling it).
And the verdict?
Nothing really changed. I still had trouble remembering to contemplate during the contemplative parts of the mass. I still struggled to stay awake in the dimly lit church (love the candlelight services…but, they aren’t my strong suit). I still loved hearing the teenagers read the readings, stumbling over certain pronunciations but reading with that fresh voice, not the typical drone of the more experienced readers. I still loved being surrounded by people I knew and did not know, with their joy, their pain, the hopes and their miseries wrapped up into four simple words “Lord, hear our prayer.” And I loved receiving the Eucharist in that moment transcending time and space and all that is known to me.
Did wearing a hat change my experience of the mass? In short, no. I’m glad I tried it but I doubt it will come a regular part of my spiritual life.
But here’s to trying something new.
* Not that there’s anything wrong with that.***
** I don’t actually drink beer, but I still believe it.