I am the pastor’s robe. I hang on the office door amidst stoles, crosses, and bubble necklaces. I see her furrowed brow as she types at her computer. I see her laughing on the phone. I see her crying, bent forward in her chair as emotions gush forth from her depths.
I’m finally going through the six bookcases of books I own. By the encouragement of my husband, I’ve got to get rid of some of them. 🙂 I came across a book I didn’t know I owned: Courageous Spirit: Voices from Women in Ministry. I flipped through it and landed on this story below. I have yet to wear a robe in ministry but this story still spoke deeply to my soul.
I am the pastor’s robe. I listen to meetings she holds with other people. I hear her strategize, think creatively, be funny. I hear her reflect the feelings of others. I hear her miss the point, get defensive. I hear her listening. I hear her regroup. I hear her relax, be playful. I hear how hard she is trying; I hear how hard she can be.
I am the pastor’s robe. On Sundays she puts me on. I feel her weariness, her excitement. I feel her mustering courage, will, hope. I feel her love for others coming through me. I feel her fear of being hurt, being wrong, being different – and hiding inside me. I feel her forget why she chose this path. I feel her forget she ever doubted it.
I am the pastor’s robe. She takes me off. She hangs me back up. I witness a content smile as she remembers the day, a welling in the eyes when she remembers someone’s words. She shuts her computer down, grabs her bag, picks up her keys, and turns to me.
She neither wants nor waits, neither wonders nor worries. She simply looks – thinking of the day she got me, imagining the day she’ll fold me. She reflects on the day of growing old and smiles, remembering with grace her furrowed brow and her hard efforts. Remembering with amusement her seriousness and anxiety. Smiling with joy, because she never stopped laughing or learning or risking love.
I am the pastor’s robe. I am her gown of proclamation, her apron of service, her shield from negative forces, and her gateway to the Spirit. I am the pastor’s robe. See how she wears me.
– Crystal R. Sygeel
Pacific Northwest Conference