April 28, 2005

Symbols of Faith

Yesterday evening, a young man called me up on the phone and introduced himself to me. He's a college student, taking a class on world religions, and wanted to know if he could interview me for a paper he's working on.

So, at 8:30 this morning, he arrived, and we sat down to talk. He asked me about my church's style of worship, what differences there were between how we worship and how other Christians and non-Christians worship, and what were some distinctive practices of our congregation.

One question, however, caught me off guard. He began by reminding me that Sikhs carry with them the five symbols of Sikhs, and asked if there was anything that I carried with me at all times. "Well, no, there isn't," I said, "but your question makes me wonder if such a practice would be helpful for Christians like me...."

I've been thinking about this all day. One of the symbols of Sikhs is Kesh: not cutting one's hair. This symbolizes one's surrender to the will of God. Now, I'm not about to let my hair grow long (believe me, you don't want to see that), but maybe a symbol of surrendering myself to God would be helpful; I'm talking to someone, say, and they're getting me really upset, and I want to attack them, verbally or physically; but then I notice my symbol, and I remember to do what God wants me to do.

Some people have their cross necklaces. Some people have their WWJD bracelets. Some clergy have their collars that they wear. I don't. And I wouldn't want anything so visible, anything that would seem to draw attention to myself, anything that would suggest, "Hey, I can be a Christian and have my bling-bling, too!" But something private, something secret, just might be what I'm looking for.

And no, I'm not talking about a Kacherra, the knee-length underwear Sikhs wear as a symbol of chastity.


the reverend mommy said...

Hmmm... You could have responded that you wear the mark of your baptism - that you are marked by God's love and grace.

At least it's easier than circumcision.

Danny said...

It's funny, when I was thinking about this post during the day, I thought about circumcision, and how the apostle Paul says that what matters is "circumcision of the heart," but somehow that didn't make it into the essay when I sat down later to write it....

PPB said...

I wear a cross ring. I wear it because I notice my hands much more than anyone else does, and because wearing a cross necklace is noticeable to everyone but me. But that' sme.