Passing The Peace, Passing the Purell

One of the great joys of being on sabbatical is the opportunity to worship without any responsibilities beyond participating faithfully in the service. I love it. I am grateful. I am particularly grateful for the open table that welcomes me to take Communion.

We pass the peace before Holy Communion as a sign of reconcilation and it’s a beautiful practice. However, seeing that the woman one pew in front of me yesterday was coughing, sniffling and sneezing, I beelined across the sanctuary during the Peace so that I wouldn’t have to shake her hand. That might not be the height of Christian love but I was not willing to reconcile myself to spending the next week feeling miserable in bed.

I am a bit of a germaphobe and am never, ever without sanitizing hand wipes. I was therefore able to give my hands a decent cleansing after the passing of the peace when I looked up to the chancel and realized that I wasn’t sure if the priest had sanitized his hands before consecrating the Host. When the elements were distributed, I surreptitiously pocketed the body of Christ but gladly drank my little shot glass of wine. I crumbled the bread outside from the birds. Very St. Francis, but jumpin’ germy Jesus, I wasn’t about to put that in my mouth just in case the priest’s hands weren’t sanitized.

So, in the spirit of my panic, let’s please make sure that we’re not going straight from pressing the flesh of dozens of members of the congregation to distributing the bread/wafers/oyster crackers. Are you all tucking some sanitizer away on the altar these days? Maybe you have always done this. Please do tell.

I have been in fairly perfect health this entire winter. I started my sabbatical in November with a terrible cough (I have a life-long talent for persistent bronchial inflammation) but once that cleared up, nary a sniffle. Ministry is not an immunity-enhancing lifestyle. Dearly beloveds, please be very attentive to your well-being. Get your rest. Drink lots of water. Take a hot shower with a few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil after making hospital visits. Stay warm. Lent is a spiritually and programmatically demanding season. Take care of you.

Hairy Topics

Oh, what a friend we have in dry shampoo! Here is a 2018 post giving you some product suggestions and how to apply.

Since posting that article, I have found the gold standard dry shampoo for myself, IGK First Class Charcoal Detox Dry Shampoo

It’s vegan, cruelty free and has UV protection in it. *praise hands*

I have fine, thick hair that gets a bit oily at the scalp pretty much immediately after shampooing, even though I am careful not to get conditioner or styling products near the crown roots. I have very dry ends and frizz potential at the front of my hair, so I have found that spritzing on some dry shampoo right away after I blow dry my hair gives it immediate safeguard against oiliness. When I style my hair, I use the best mousse for fine hair and try to make sure I’m adding as much volume as I can so it doesn’t look flat or show that my hair is thin.

This is me on “Dirty Hair Monday,” having shampoo’d on Saturday morning and worn my hair up and sprayed for church on Sunday. You can see how dry the ends are already, but the scalp doesn’t feel gross.

A friend gave me some Paul Mitchell Lavender Tea Tree Leave-In Conditioner that wasn’t working for her, and I really like it so far.

It takes time to find the right application of hair products for your own individual hairs (every single one of which God counts and loves, remember!) but they can be a huge help in keeping your look polished and pro, so do give them a try. I see so many clergy with greasy scalps and hair and I have two bits of advice:

Please wash your hair before church on Sunday, at least.
If you’re SO pressed for time that you can’t wash your hair, try some dry shampoo. Start with a little at a time, let it absorb for thirty seconds, rub it in with your fingers. Don’t brush it in as the manufacturers recommend because you’re just going to brush up more dirt and oil. Trust me, I learned this over many hair frustrations!

If you have dandruff that you’re managing well, please include tips in the comments because I don’t have any experience with that except to feel very upset when I meet ministers out and about who have a very visible sprinkling of snow on their lapels. IT’S DEAD SCALP SKIN PLEASE BRUSH IT OFF. Keep a little soft brush in your office drawer to whisk it away before you head out to shine on the people.

Dirty hair is sad and depressing and immediately indicates to me that someone is not grounded in their embodied self. It always reminds me of a little kid; the kind who’s been playing really hard and had dinner and you think, “Oh, this little punkin really needs a bath.”

You’re not a little punkin or a tired child. Don’t look like one.

For God’s Sake, Scrub!

A few months ago, Black Twitter was in a hilarious uproar over the nasty secret that white people do not know how to wash themselves properly.

I’m not getting into politics over this, nor do I want a comments section full of #NotAllWhitePeople.

What happened is that a white girl proudly tweeted that she didn’t wash her legs every shower and all hell broke loose. Because… what!? If you have very dry skin, you STILL NEED TO WASH YOUR LEGS. Skin is an organ that is constantly shedding. All of the dead skin cells that your wonderfully made, self-generating bod are making can’t just fall off naturally, you have to wash them away. I can’t believe I have to say this to grown adults, but the occasional pits-groin-feet wash is just that; occasional.

I am on Team Wash Your Legs, Your Ears, And All Your Parts pretty much every day.
You are special, you are a precious child of God, and you are funky.
You get musty.
You sit and work in close proximity to other people who should not be subjected to your funk.

Yesterday I got on a ferry from stunning Star Island to the coast of New Hampshire. A very healthy, attractive young man was on the ferry ride, and it was obvious within a few minutes that he was an au naturel guy, not a big soap and deodorant user. He smelled like a human being when he got on the ferry, and that was okay, but at the end of the ride when I had occasion to pass again through the cabin where he had been sitting, I almost gagged from the musk.

Don’t be this guy. Just as I have said about wearing jeans and being “down with the real folk,” deciding that you can go about your workday without having taking a washcloth to your incarnate self is an expression of privilege. It’s clueless. It’s rude. My theatre director and stage manager friends have a tradition of making the “smell well” speech before the cast moves into the dressing room. In no uncertain terms, they say “Don’t come to rehearsal unbathed! And please don’t try to cover up your body odor with Axe body spray or perfume – it doesn’t work, it’s unfair to your fellow actors and backstage tech people.”

They are correct; perfumed products, powders and topical unguents are not a replacement for bathing.

And now I would like to put a word in for Trader Joe’s skin care products, which are cruelty-free, affordable and work really well.

These body washes are gentle on the skin, moisturizing and a bargain! The Tea Tree is great for sweaty summers and post-workout washes and it’s not at all drying.

There’s no reason you can’t moisturize with straight coconut oil from the jar but this is lemony and super moisturizing. I get a little leathery in the sun and this gives me the most lovely glow on my arms and legs. Please moisturize, white people! I have been to so many clergy gatherings and sat there feeling utterly horrified by the scaly legs and cracked elbows on display. Raggedy cuticles, dirty feet — it’s appalling. Jesus be a pumice.

This is my favorite all-time body lotion. It is THICK and emollient! It absorbs fast. It works wonders. I have a container of this on my vanity and in the bathroom all winter. Very mild scent.

Get yourself some washcloths! Body scrubs are okay but let’s be honest — how often are you washing them? I have a pile of these and I replace them every two to three days. Use a different one for your face, obvs.

Be Pure Of Sole

Hello honey heads, how have you been?

There you are at the thing: the meeting, the service, the protest, the potluck. You have washed up and shined up and showed up. You are engaged. You are grateful and gracious.

You have put together an outfit that you feel respects the occasion. You have ironed your shirt. You have chosen outerwear that reflects your leadership role and is a a few steps above a squall parka. You have brushed the dandruff and animal fur off of your shoulders.

When you did your head-to-toe prayerful preparation for where you needed to be, did you get all the way down to your feet?

I have almost forgotten to review my feet a few times recently and came close to attending an important occasions with mud on my boot heels. I really would have been mortified if someone had noticed the dirt, and I know someone would have. That is not okay. Even in this cursed generation of leggings worn as pants, dirty shoes at solemn occasions is not acceptable unto the Lord.

Microfiber cloths are a fantastic way to clean up your shoes and boots. I have a stack of white ones in my bathroom for make-up removal (they’re miraculous at getting rid of everything, even mascara, with just warm water!) and they work great with a little water or micellar water on dirty or dusty shoes. The micellar water is also a gentle make-up remover but works as a nice face freshener (I like to wipe it under my eyes after a nap or long day) or on any leather products.

Now, if you’re wearing lug soles, please do not come into any building tracking dirt. If muddy hiking boots are your usual workaday wear because you’re doing ministry in a rural environment (and if you’re not, you have no excuse for wearing muddy hiking boots!), take them off in church and have shoes to change into. That also goes for social events in people’s homes, restaurants, community centers, houses of worship and Knights of Columbus halls. Unless you’re doing a part-time ministry with a side gig as a lumberjack, don’t wear muddy hiking boots while pastoring. You ain’t that rugged.

Annie Spratt from Unsplash

Dry Shampoo Review

Beautiful people, if you have not included dry shampoo in your styling arsenal, know that it’s a very good friend to you on days that actual shampooing would be too time or water-consuming.
For those of you with slippery, fine hair, dry shampoo is fantastic for plumping up the roots. In fact, my own hair looks like a big bla when freshly washed but looks much better on day two and three with some dry shampoo spritzed in.

My hair stylist, Roger, gave me the essential tip: apply dry shampoo before bed and allow it time to soak up the oil. Brush out in the morning and voila, cleaner, lifted roots.

Don’t over-apply dry shampoo, and don’t brush it out too hard, either or you’ll just make it oily again. I lift sections of my hair, spritz the roots, zhuzh wiht my fingers, and leave be. The next morning I brush gently with a boar bristle brush and style.

Batiste is a pretty good brand. It costs about $7 and has different formulas.

Bamboo Style is my fave dry shampoo. It’s very clear, doesn’t require more than a few little spritzes to soak up a lot of oil, and has a fairly neutral smell. It’s about $12.95.

I don’t know how I once acquired a bottle of Oribe Dry Shampoo but it’s WAY beyond my budget, so it must have been a giveaway. I liked it a lot but no way is it worth $44!! Oribe products are delicious, though.

Not Your Mother’s Texturing Dry Shampoo is a good product and only costs a few bucks. It made my hair a little too slippery and I found it a little too fragranced but definitely a fall-back if I run out of Bamboo or Batiste.

As for this orginal dry shampoo that you may have seen on your mom’s bathroom counter growing up?

Pssst, here’s a secret: save your money. It’s awful.