Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Poverty, Chastity, Obedience and a Little Poor Man

Okay, so you're all wondering what I decided.

I decided on none of those I showed you.


It got really bad over here. Mantilla partials in all kinds of colors--white, tea-dyed, RIT dyed (turned out silver)--were thrown recklessly about my bedroom. I fretted over hoochie dresses, though admittedly I dig the hooker heels. I felt frustrated, fat, and most unpretty.

I loved the dress, but I didn't really want to wear it to church. I'd worry that I wasn't dressed appropriately. Lovies, I talk a lot of smack, but in my heart I really want to be a good girl. I don't mind a funky (in a good way) outfit, but I couldn't abide a dress that I felt honored more me than God. After all, Easter is really His day. I am a joyful and grateful witness to the truth of resurrection.

We've already been through my desire to cover my head, and it just makes sense that I'd cover my shoulders. A suit I gave a way a year ago came back to me, and I decided to wear it. My bff said something beautiful to me. She said, "If you wear the suit, you won't be thinking about how you look." And I'd rather be right in the moment. With Jesus and Ken.

So I put on the suit. Only... I hate suits. Not on other people. On me. I'm just not a suit person. Every time I thought about wearing that lovely suit, I felt so sad. I felt I'd be doing this wonderful thing in something I'd never wear otherwise. I'd wear the hoochie dress before a suit! I'd wear it in church before that suit! But I didn't want to wear the hoochie dress in church, not even for something so magical as having my marriage blessed. That's why I got the suit back! Not to mention that bulky jacket made me look like I was going out for quarterback for the Detroit Lions. A quarterback with delicate pearl embellishments. Not a look I was trying to cultivate.

I got in a real funk. Finally I got back to the basics of mantilla wear. I decided I'd go with white, but not the first one I made. I just didn't like how it fell. Too bulky. I wanted something soft and winsome as the black one, but not the black one. Then I got an idea. "Why don't I get another lil' piece of that Chantilly lace, but in white. I can keep both. Black for ordinary time, and white for extraordinary, if you will." So, a ride to Jo-Anne and a nominal fee later, I had a white mantilla--or reasonable facsimile.

And a suit.

I asked myself, "what would Jesus, do?" And lovies, somethings He will leave in your hands, quietly waiting for you to decide. He would have loved me in the hoochie dress, but He also loves me without it. Then I asked myself what my beloved St. Francis would do. Honeys, you know he'd wear his rough cloak, but he'd put some flowers in his hair. And God's troubadour would have a song in his heart. He'd understand I couldn't afford anything now. And he'd sing a song about his lady poverty to me. About how he loves her. How beautiful she is seen through the eyes of Christ, and love, and how she could teach so much if we listened to holy poverty. St. Francis would understand why I didn't want to wear the shoulder-less gown, too. Even if I could, and nobody like Padre Pio would throw me out of church. St. Francis was all about chastity. He'd made a vow to her. And he would find it honorable that even though I don't have to, I want to cover my head. He would see these are small things, but given to God with great love. And that would make me more beautiful and radiant in his eyes. He loved obedience, too. Vowed himself to that virtue, as well.

So, for Francesco, I went to my closet and asked myself, "what do I already own that I feel amazing in?"

I love the black slinky dress with matching jacket, but I didn't love it for this. Even with the thought of flowers. I didn't have many other options. I wear black almost exclusively. It's a weird private commitment thing. But no black on this special day, not even a black mantilla. Not even hooker heels. I needed to look soft, but like me. That was pretty important to me. What I had left was a cream colored shell and cardigan, and the quarterback suit skirt. But together, they looked like simplicity itself. Soft, but not drawing any extra attention--I'd just as soon let Jesus and the catechumens have their day.

So this is me in my covered sacramental marriage bridal gear, with a little help from the poor man of Assisi.

And here's a closer view of the pretty, pretty lace. And a cross, and isn't that just perfect. :) One more thing, I think I'll keep the edges unfinished. After all, my own edges are unfinished. Wouldn't that be wildly, wonderfully symbolic.

This is more of the same, but honestly, I'm pretty cool with this hook-up. I'm less conscious about my weight, I got one of my favorite saints to help me pick my outfit--now I just have to get some flowers, maybe just a little babies breath, and a red rose or two. I didn't have to buy anything new, and most of all, I feel like me. So don't feel badly because I sent that gorgeous dress back. The most important elements are present. I'm going to show up. Ken is going to show up. Despite years of prophecies ( a few of them from me!) that our marriage wouldn't last a year, then a few years, then five years (It's been 12), we're still here. And together on Easter we will partake of the mystical body of Christ. And don'tcha just love that? So, Jesus is going to be there, too. Before us, behind us, surrounding us--with us. And that makes me so happy.

Let the blogsphere church say, "Amen!"

Pray for us.



Jonea said...

YAY! I am glad that you found something that you feel comfortable in. That's the most important thing...:o) Have a wonderfully amazingly beautiful Easter celebration.

paula clare said...

My dear sister,
You did the right thing...and asking yourself "What would francis wear" was just an inspired notion. My hubby and I renewed our vows 15 years after our initial wedding, and I so loved the experience. When you have a wedding AFTER the fact, you don't have inlaws and outlaws dictating what you should wear and how it should go...NOBODY CARES! Or so it seems...so our service was one of my feeling like a princess in an ivory lace, tea length dress (second hand) and worship songs... honoring the One who held (and holds) us together. I will be praying for both you and Ken! May the day be one of great renewal, commitment to one another and to God, and celebration of the resurrection!

lisa s. said...


May ABBA's peace rest in your hearts and in your home, the new-morning mercies of Jesus always be in your midst, and the power of the Holy Spirit before, behind and within all the Burneys.

wilsonian said...

Gorgeous as I knew you would be :)


Elysa said...


I love your choice but even more, I love the reasons behind your choice.

And most, most, MOST of all...I love you!

Sure do wish I could be there to witness the beautiful act of worship and obedience and love. Please have someone take lots of picchas.


heather said...

It's beautiful how you're choosing to honor God above yourself, how you agonized over the best way to do this, and how you realized that part of honoring God is to be who He created you to be, which happens to not be a linebacker, but a beautiful, soft, lacy woman.
I love the mantilla, by the way. Makes me want to go get one.

Heidi Renee said...

AMEN to it all, especially you feeling the love and acceptance of yourself in Christ - so thrilled for you both and praying my head off for ya! Will be remembering you Sunday morning!

Heather S. said...

This is so beautiful-- you look more glowing and more peaceful than in the previous photos. Bendiciones en su boda. Blessings on your wedding.

And, I hope you wear the hoochy dress for going out for dinner with your husband afterwards.

Katy McKenna said...

You look amazing, lady. And happily married. We renewed our vows on our 25th (six years ago). Even though we had gotten married in the church, the experience of recommitting was wonderful. I pray the same for you and Ken!

Katy McKenna www.fallible.com

Caldonia Sun said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes, Claudia. Your reasoning is so beautiful and seems so right. You are beauty and grace itself. May our dear Lord richly bless you and Ken through this step of obedience. May His presence envelop you run with you on the high places.

Hab. 3:19 The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds' feet, And makes me walk on my high places.

D. Gudger said...

You make a good point between the lines. The Easter Dress has taken center stage in nearly every church (except perhaps one on a nudist colony). Jesus should be center stage - especially on Easter.

What a beautiful picture of how we must decrease so He can increase.

Karen Deborah said...

Awhh shucks your so sweet. You look pretty, I am so grateful you stayed true to who you are and didn't go with the suit. The dress really wasn't hootchie, it looked great and the heels sounded nice. You can wear them out. i was amazed that you returned a dress that olloked that good, felt good and cost $10 bucks. That's impressive. Your heart is so tende to Jesus he loves you so much, just because your you. God bless your special day with joy. This will be a Ressurection sunday that you'll never forget.
I'm excited to read your book, I think your days of poverty are numbered.

Rhonda Jeanne said...

It's just perfect! Simple and elegant, dahling!

Candy said...

AMEN!! You look just right. I love the way you came to the conclusion. It's so you.

Father - Bless this union all over again between Claudia and Ken. Shower them with Your divine love and grace and take center stage, Lord. May You be more apparent in them than they are themselves. Thank You for the last 12 years! AMEN

Alana said...

Without having plowed through all the other comments, I just have to say you look STUNNING...outside and inside! You put into words a struggle that I often go through as well, and your solution is just perfect. Glory to God for all things!

Joni said...

It sounds like you found the perfect solution for your perfect day.

God grant you both His peace and blessings as you offer your marriage up to Him.

Happy Resurrection Day (in two days!)!

Esther said...

Oh, Mair - this post is so sweet. I feel privileged to view the heart of Christ that beats within you. The soft, white mantilla frames your face beautifully. You look lovely - sweet, soft, peaceful and lovely. I love the way dear St. Francis helped you pick out your white attire. Perfect! I will be thinking of and praying for you tomorrow, Holy Saturday. With much love, Esther