Jewelry is no exception. On our second date, my now-boyfriend complimented the flower in my hair. I blurted out, “Thanks, I’m making adornment a spiritual practice.” I’m sure he had no idea what I meant. I’m not even sure I knew myself!
So how is adornment in any way spiritual? I thought about the Song of Songs. Not only is perfume mentioned, but so is jewelry:
“Your cheeks lovely in pendants, your neck in jewels. We will make pendants of gold for you, and ornaments of silver” (Song of Songs 1: 10-11).
It seems okay to me, then, that adornment can be a spiritual act, making us more attractive as well.
And here is a seemingly unrelated story to illustrate my point.
The common costumes were the sheet over the head with two holes, (or more than two, imitating Charlie Brown’s costume). Then there was the standard witch costume: black hat and broom, with some old dress from the back of the closet.
Vampires were popular too. The costume was made up of a graduation robe, ringed around the neck, and some blush on the cheeks. The adventurous sort would also have slicked back hair.
But the most popular costume, by far, was the hobo. It was almost the same for all the kids, both boys and girls: their father’s flannel shirt and pants, wrinkled and stained, held together with a belt of twine; their grandpa’s fedora, which was smashed and bent up, and occasionally had a hole or two in it; and dirt streaks on the face. The ambitious hobos fashioned a bindle from a stick and a bandana, filling it with rags. And that was about it.
For our patron saint speeches, you could guess what happened: every kid named John or Frank (and there were plenty) just wore their hobo costume again as John the Baptist or Saint Francis. The witches and vampires reused their capes, apparently because all saints wear capes.
And then there was me, in an immaculate and well-tailored outfit that perfectly replicated Saint Elizabeth of Hungary’s garb. My big moment, however, was when I finished telling Saint Elizabeth’s story. Her wealthy husband did not want her leaving the house; but she defied him, giving his money to the poor. The day he caught her, he opened her cape to prove that she’d stolen from him. Instead, flowers miraculously appeared and fell into her remorseful husband’s hands. As I was reading, I opened my cloak and inside my mother had sewn two dozen silk flowers. The crowd gasped and gave me a standing ovation—the only one.
And here’s my point: after that day, I got asked out by every John, Frank, Anthony and Paul. I can only assume it was the costume and the flowers. I do not consider adornment an act of vanity; it is an effort to venerate God’s beautiful creation. And if, in that effort, it makes us more attractive to others, what harm could it cause?
I still believe this. Case in point: a few weeks ago I went to my boyfriend’s house before a dance performance that was held nearby. I was almost out the door when he shouted: “Wait! Your false eyelashes! You can’t leave without them!” So there it is: one, men love a woman adorned. And two, keep the man who looks after your eyelashes.
So to all CatholicMatch members: have a wonderful All Saints’ Day. And maybe you want to dress up a bit—but not as a hobo or a witch.
Let’s take this opportunity to talk about our patron saints. Who is your favorite saint?