One Dress. 40 Days : #LentMyWay
Hillary Raining will be wearing the same dress for 40 days of Lent. The Rector of St. Christopher’s Church in Gladwyne, PA is embarking on a journey to connect her faith with her passion for creating a sustainable future and raising awareness of Episcopal Relief & Development. Starting on Ash Wednesday (2/14/18), she will be posting a photograph each day to her website, reflecting on the Lenten meditation from the day from our 2018 Lenten Meditations booklet and encouraging friends and readers to donate to our programs. In this blog, we learn what motivates her to enter into this faithful journey.
“Who are you wearing?”
This a question that every glamorously dressed movie star has lobbed at them as she walks down the red carpet. The question denotes a sense of status and prestige — is the star important enough to be dressed by a world-famous designer? With labels and looks dictating many of the unspoken messages of power and respect in our society it’s no wonder that the question, “who are you wearing?” takes on such importance. But how would you answer if someone asked you that question?
We are about to enter into the holy season of Lent. This period of 40 days is a call to us to live simply in our daily choices, to give to others, and to fast from things that are separating us from God and love of others. It is a call to “… lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light…[to] put on the Lord Jesus Christ…” as St. Paul tells us in Romans 13:12,14 (NRSV). Paul is reminding us that we have “put on” something that is more important than any one piece of clothing could ever hope to be—we have put on the identity of Jesus himself. When asked the question, “who are you wearing?” Paul would remind every Christian that their answer should be “Christ.”
What we wear matters not only for fashionable reasons but for ethical and spiritual reasons. Despite a growing trend for sustainable fashion, the garment industry continues to seriously impact the environment, from water use to greenhouse emissions, to the demand placed on raw materials and the amount of waste created.
Our garments and the industry that surrounds them touch every facet of life on earth and sometimes in some very negative ways. Ask any child who has had the painful experiences of going to school wearing clothes that are too dirty or not “cool” enough, or being without a warm jacket. Ask a woman who been harassed for wearing a hijab or for not wearing it. They will all tell you that what you wear matters a great deal. Our garments are charged with layers of complexity. They are social status symbols, religious identifiers and tools for individual expression.
This year I’ll be embarking on an experiment to wear one dress for the entire 40 days of Lent. By doing so, I am hoping to put on Christ in many Lenten ways and I invite you to join me on my journey at The Hive.
Some things I hope to achieve include:
- Praying on this complex and global challenge. Each day I will don the dress as a type of physical prayer;
- Give alms to Episcopal Relief & Development to acknowledge their support with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals;
- Living simply by wearing one item of clothing and showing others that what you wear is an extension of your ethical beliefs;
- Reducing my carbon footprint by cleaning less clothing;
- Fasting from purchasing more garments;
- Spending less time thinking about what I will wear every day.
May you have a blessed Lent assured in the knowledge that you have put on Christ, your true design and designer.
Share how you’re choosing to do Lent on social media using the hashtag #LentMyWay
The Rev. Dr. Hillary Raining is the Rector of St. Christopher’s Church in Gladwyne, PA and the author of Joy in Confession by Forward Movement. She serves as the Vice President of the Standing Committee, as a member of the COM and a General Convention Deputy for the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Hillary is one of the founders of an online wellness and spirituality communality called The Hive. She travels extensively, preaching and leading educational and spiritual events including reconciliation, yoga, liturgical studies, building Christian community, meditation, retreats, bee keeping, parenting and the Daring Way. During Advent, she participated in the Zero Waste Challenge which transformed many aspects of her life. She is married to Ken and is the proud mother of Delia.