Some years ago, I bought a scarf in Hungary to remind me of my first European trip but the souvenir's future was bleak. Ordinary in design and color, it was buried in a drawer and ignored. It was just a red scarf with thin stripes and fringes.
One summer I visited a dear friend who insisted I stay in her bedroom. On the nightstand was a neatly folded, pale yellow cloth lying near her Bible. It seemed sacred and something not to be disturbed. Confirming my thoughts, my friend said she used it during her prayer time - a prayer scarf. Like the ancient Israelites who cover their heads with a cloak or tallit for a private space with God, my friend was continuing the practice. I viewed the covering of the head as an act of submission and an acknowledgement to God as one's authority. This was something I wanted to do.
Back home, I began to search and scan websites for a real tallit like the ones worn in the Jewish religious culture. The array of traditional and non-traditional tallits was overwhelming but nothing made me whip out my credit card. Nothing touched my spirit. Rummaging through my own scarves, I reluctantly resurrected the striped red scarf.
One morning in meditation with my head covered, I found myself stroking and gazing at my scarf. The Holy Spirit began to speak in this quiet moment. He impressed upon me how this once cast-off garment is honorable and symbolic in its simplicity. The red symbolizes the blood Jesus shed for my sins. The yellow thread woven throughout stands for the Light that will always lead me. The green stripe is for the abundant life God offers. The black stripe is a reminder that He created me, a woman of color with a mission to advance His Kingdom on earth. The fringes evoke the determination of the woman who pressed her way through the crowd to touch the tassels of Jesus' tallit for her healing. They remind me to keep going with my mission in spite of the enemy's opposition. Finally, to be covered with the scarf is to remember that the Blood of the Lamb covers me and affords me the right to all of God's promises as His child. This rejected piece of cloth had been changed into a holy thing.
Now when I am under my covering, I feel linked with a long, ancient line of solitary saints who met God on a lonely hill while watching sheep or in a temple among a throng of murmuring worshippers or sitting alone in a quiet room. It is no longer a scarf or a souvenir. It is my tallit, my red tallit with stripes.
Read more articles by Jacqueline Broy or search for articles on the same topic or others.