Listening to Giles Fraser this morning discussing our "uniform" on the radio brought back several weird moments in my life.
The first time I wore my dog collar in public was the day I walked to the cathedral for my ordination as a deacon. I was nervous. I felt as I walked that everyone was looking at me! They weren't of course....there were hundreds of us walking along the narrow streets!
I got used to wearing the collar fast after that and it didn't take me long to order some coloured shirts to support the small plastic strip that defines our role in society!
My tutor Julia snorted the first time she saw my pink shirt! In those days it was fairly unusual!
Now I never think about it when I put one on! I only wear one if I'm working...but it does make a difference as to how people treat me.
If I'm driving anywhere around here people tend to give way to me if the collar is visible. But they know me and my car well so this tends to happen anyway!
We are the only profession where our calling is a definite statement.
You only recognise a doctor if he's wearing a stethoscope. I can think of no other instant recognition device.
As for our robes....I wear my alb more than either of the black cassocks that hang in my room. The polystyrene alb can be rolled into a ball that shakes out easily as I reach the church...
Buying my own stoles were a major expense when I first started...but I enjoyed the shopping for these and always enjoy fitting the right stole to the right occasion.
I suppose it's a throwback to different times now. I can think of many reasons for getting rid of them but for most of us, especially those like me who joined up late in life it is an appearance of grace that we value....even as they dig into our necks on occasion!
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