Sunday, July 27, 2008

Freedom






A wedding post:
One of the enduring images from last week-end is that we got to see the knees of Beve, J, and two of my nephews. Yeah, I know we see their knees all the time. J lives in shorts, practically all year round. But somehow last week, those knees looked different. Those men looked different. They were dressed in kilts.

Kilts have made their appearance at family events before. When I was in high school, Mom went to the British Isles one summer and brought the Dump and me back fabric to make our own kilts. They were our family's plaids--Dump's was the beautiful ancient dress plaid, mine was the hunting--dingy grey and brown together. At 17, I couldn't imagine making that kilt, much less ever wearing it. It sat around in my bedroom for years--long after I'd vacated the space for an adult life. I have no idea whatever happened to it--maybe Mom threw it out with my wedding dress. Then, about eight years ago, my mom, sisters and I took a trip together to the same Island, and while my sisters and I took the train south to meet some seminary friends of mine, see a castle, the place where Robert Burns lived and wrote his haunting poetry, Mom was left to her own devices in Glasgow. And Mom left to her own devices has always meant one thing: spending money! She bought an entire kilt outfit for little brother, complete with tiny sword, and purse (I know, I know, those aren't the proper names for them, but that's what they look like, right?). And who knew it would be D's favorite gift since he got his LA Rams helmet when he was about 5 years old?! From that point on, that kilt was brought out/worn on every occasion one can imagine, and plenty more besides. Family wedding? Check. Dress up dinner? Hosting fancy dinners? Double check. E's volleyball matches? Of course. There is no occasion for which a kilt is unsuitable in D's mind. Shoot, I think he'd have worn it riding in the combine on the farm, or on one of the horses, if those dang farmers weren't such sticks in the mud (No, I'm just kidding! My brother-in-law has been known to give the Beve a run for his money in the silliness department when we get together--ask them about the Christmas Beve gave the farmer an extension cord...).

Ok, before I get completely sidetracked...
It didn't take much to decide that the only suitable dress for the Beve and the boys was kilts. The Dump and I found some lightweight ones, picked out a few (though NOT that one I found so hideous in my youth--it's still not very appealing to me), and I convinced Beve (an easy task) and J (the very opposite of easy!) that this was a great way to surprise D, who wouldn't be wearing one.
The most amazing thing happened when they put on those kilts, though. J, who'd been reluctant, put on that kilt and looked great (he's the one with the black shirt!), seriously great. They all did, actually. About as far from cross-dressing as one can get, they looked completely masculine and immediately conjured "Braveheart," and William Wallace, and Robert the Bruce. The strains of Scotland the Brave or Loch Lomond are running through my head as I think about even now.

D was surprised, glad--wishing he was wearing his. And those kilt-dressed men of mine (I'll claim them all) made a big hit at D's wedding reception. Now Beve's quite the tease, willing to be silly, make a splash when the occasion arises, but those three cousins are the quieter part of our rather loud family. J would rather read and talk about it than be the center of attention. But at that wedding, those kilt-dressed men kicked up their heels and had a great time. There was something about being together in it that gave them freedom, perhaps. Or maybe it's the ghost of Mel Gibson yelling "Freedom" that runs through the veins of every man comfortable enough with themselves to put one on. Whatever it was, they got outside of themselves that day, and did it together, and it was impressive. What a sight to see them dancing their version of a round dance together, kilts flying, heads thrown back, laughing. D loved it, his wife, EC, loved it, and I loved it.

There's something about dressing in costume, so to speak, that makes us get outside of ourselves. Or outside of the particular self we usually want to convey to the world. Perhaps those kilts gave them a chance to be more themselves, more like kids, just enjoying the moment, being together in it. That's what I saw. I saw a J I haven't seen since he was a little boy, giddy with the wonder of just plain fun. Dancing without thought to whether he looked foolish, free and enjoying the dance.

David danced when the ark was brought back to Jerusalem, "dancing before the Lord with all His might," according to 2 Samuel 6:14, wearing no more than his underwear. Unabashedly glad in the moment--this best of all his long life of great moments--when he brought God home-- in a sense. We're just so staid most of the time. We wear our clothes like shields, I think. We put them on, and keep our real emotions inside. Now I'm not suggesting that we tear them off, and dance in our underwear. But it seems to me that no matter what else we're wearing, we, who are His, are clothed in Him. And that means FREEDOM. And that's the word for the day.
Paul says in Galatians 5:1 "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Do you feel constricted? Laced into your life and behavior so much you cannot breathe? Or do you understand how free you are to dance?

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