Summer Rites of Passage

Hello, my dear pigeons!

Let us check in in the midst of summer, when most clergy I know agonize more than any other time of year over how to do the job that must be done while not melting away or looking like a drowned rat.

I remember preaching an ordination in August in Pittsburgh once many years ago. It was so hot in the sanctuary that I sweated through my clothing AND my robe. As I preached, I could feel my shoes filling with sweat. I had to walk away from the chancel extremely carefully so as not to walk right out of my shoes. Thank the gods I had an actual towel with me so I could remove all of my clothes in the pastor’s office, towel off, re-dress myself and towel dry my hair.

Last week was chock full of rites of passage for me, several of them with challenging attire decisions. Let’s walk through them, shall we? Click on the photos to enlarge.

First, a wedding rehearsal. I must have changed clothes four times. A suit was far too formal. A blazer also more work-day than I wanted. I had a pretty floral dress and cropped cardigan for the reception the next day and all my church skirts and tops seemed not formal enough for the venue. I wanted something that would seem special but not too dressed up. I settled on this long, patterned duster, black pencil pants and flats. I have gotten a lot of use out of this garment and am very glad I bought it this spring.


(This is the Richard Rodgers Theatre in NYC, not the wedding rehearsal. And the photo is cropped. I don’t have one man hand. That hand belongs to someone else).

The wedding itself was easy. Thank God for vestments. The only issue I had was that I had a very hard time reading from my Kindle in the sun. That has never happened before and it’s a good argument for going with my iPad next time, although I can hold the Kindle much more easily. That makes a difference when you’re doing handfastings and holding rings and such.

By the way? I looked all over heaven and yon to find a beautiful way to tie the cords and create an actual knot (hence the expression “tying the knot”) and found this little tutorial to be just what I needed. I practiced at home until I could do it without fumbling.


Stole by Jeffrey Wunrow.

The next day I drove down to a friend’s house to do a private christening. Let’s not talk about the ecclesiology of this right now – but I’d like to. My own reasoning is that the Christian community began as a house religion, and I’ll leave it at that.

So what was I going to WEAR? It was hot. It was informal. I didn’t want to wear a long, floppy stole over street clothes and I don’t have a chaplain’s stole that would suit the occasion (although I’d like to get one). I settled on a linen top and skirt from J. Jill and a big silver cross.


Photo by Amy Hildreth

I scooted off to NYC to see “Hamilton” for a second, equally life-changing time and then returned to New England to officiate at a funeral for a friend’s family member. They didn’t want vestments. Also, the church was extremely hot. What to wear?

I went with a black skirt, black sleeveless top, white blazer and an interesting necklace I brought back from Palestine. It’s not fancy, it’s more earthy. Here’s my face.

I wore the same ankle strap Dansko flats you see in the christening photo. I am really glad I have those – they have actual support.

The gravesite ceremony was the next morning. It was also extremely hot under brutal son. I stepped a bit to the side under a tree so I could read from my Kindle, and I wore the black pencil pants, lace black shell (dressier than a regular camisole top but just as comfortable) and a white linen trapeze jacket with one big button. I have preached many summer services in that jacket, and I have one in black as well. I don’t have any photos, just this selfie that I took for my friend featuring the faux diamond signaling my “diamond member” status for breakfast. I thought that was hilarious. You can see from my eyes that I’m getting very tired. By that point I had been in three states, four different sleeping arrangements, a couple of road trips, two Amtrak journeys, a bunch of subway rides, about ten walking miles and four rites of passage (including a pilgrimage to Katz’s Deli on the Lower East Side and a Broadway show — two of my religions) all within less than a week.

I hope you’re all doing so very well. Please check in when you can. MWAH!

3 Replies to “Summer Rites of Passage”

  1. I hope you’re getting some much needed rest after all that giving of yourself. Thank you, as always, for the wardrobe advice. I’m struggling in the heat to decide what to wear under my alb on Sunday’s. The clerical shirt has been ditched as it’s too hot. So is the chasuble…most of the time I’m wearing a sleeveless dress, sometimes, I will admit, I’m in shorts and a tank top, but nobody sees me wearing these. I wear my alb on top.

    I’m travelling to a conference in September where I will be only “religious” person there. THAT is going to be a challenge.

  2. For holding onto your Kindle or your iPad, use one of those things that people put on their phones. Mine is a black metallic diamond PopSocket. You can even move one from the Kindle to the iPad, you can refresh the stickiness with a little bit of water. [Oh, does that help at all with the lighting issue? I hadn’t though to get one of those! – PB]

  3. I have no problem with my kindle in the sun – Hawaii, Palestinian Territories, Israel, Egypt, India – I use a paper white, not a fire. It’s great. Even the old school ones work for me.

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