Jennifer E. Thomas (j3nny3lf) wrote,
Jennifer E. Thomas

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On Veiling

I have friends in Jerusalem, Shimon and Shoshana, orthodox Jews, people I love dearly. They call me their sister, and treat me as if I were family. Shimon wishes me a happy anniversary every year on the anniversary of the day that we "met" on Undernet, and never fails to remember my birthday, shares the births of their new children and grandchildren with me, worries over me as if I had been born to his mother and father. This because I was born to a Jewish mother who was raised a Catholic, but because of the racial link, I am his sister and that is what matters to him.

He and Shoshana have worked very hard to bring me somewhat back into the Jewish fold over the years. At one time, Shoshana was giving me mini lessons in the traditions involved in being an orthodox woman, and I asked her about the whole business of covering the hair, hiding it from everybody except your husband. I can't remember her exact words, but what it boiled down to was that it was something she did with joy, for God and for Shimon, both. For God because it was what He expected women to do, and for Shimon, because it was something so.. mundane, so simple and out there, something people just don't even think twice about, that keeping her hair covered for him made it all the more special when she uncovered it in the privacy of the bedroom for him.

A true gift of love and devotion - "Here, this is something that is of almost no importance to anybody at all, but I choose to reserve it for your eyes only, and that makes it a precious gift from me to you."

I have thought about that over the years and wondered if I would ever feel that strong a devotion to a man that I would want to tuck away a public part of myself just for him. I never thought that I would. For a little while there, I thought that I might, but then things fell apart with him.

When I first returned to the Catholic Church in 2000, I started contemplating wearing a modesty veil when I prayed and attended the Mass. I never did so. It just wasn't the right thing for me to do at the time, but every now and then I I'd take the idea down off the shelf and dust it off and look it over, then put it back up, knowing that one day I just might take it down and keep it down.

Back in August I moved to San Antonio with Sam, and one Sunday in September we went to the Mass. For some reason, on that Sunday I took a beautiful pink scarf that I bought in Sydney, Australia, a big pink silk rectangle about three feet long by eighteen inches wide with beaded ends and draped it over my head and let one end drape down my front and the other end I wrapped loosely around my head and hung down my back, and we went to church. I felt a sense of peace and tranquility and focus while praying the Mass that I had never experienced before. Instead of taking it off after we left, I kept it on. And the next day, when we took the boys out to the school bus, I tied it around my head, gypsy style.

Since that day, I've covered my hair every time I've left the house or when people have come over. Once I forgot to wear a head covering when we went out, and I felt vulnerable and naked the entire time that we were out.

I veil for two reasons. I veil because it helps me reach a deeper sense of spirituality and tranquility. And I veil because it is a gift that I give to my beloved husband. A simple gift, something that I don't expect anybody else out there to understand and certainly not something for which I seek anybody else's approval. What matters is that Sam and I are happy with it.

Sometimes, Sam gets a little bit uncomfortable with it. I think he gets these visions of some crazed Osama bin Laden wannabe forcing his woman to her knees as he jams a burqa down, covering her from head to toe, and wonders if he's somehow stepping into the dark ages. He sometimes seems to think that his wife veiling is the equivalent of a statement that he's a chauvinistic pig who believes that his wife is his inferior slave who belongs barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, raising the children and slaving away over a hot stove to serve him his dinner the minute he walks in the door. It is not.

Most of the time, he takes the veil for exactly what it is, and understands it and appreciates it. I wear it by choice, my choice. He never suggested that I wear it, never even thought it in his head, I'm sure. And if tomorrow I decided that I didn't want to wear it any longer, I doubt sincerely that he would mind. Hell, I have no idea how hot it will be here in July - I may damn well decide that love is not up to that kind of heat in a head covering!

I do know that he seems to like it most of the time. When I take the veil off at night, he smiles into my eyes, kisses me, and I am his, completely, as I am at all times - but there's symbolism in removing the veil that just isn't there in any other way.

"I belong to my lover
and for me he yearns"

(Song of Solomon 7:11)

Head Over Feet

I had no choice but to hear you
You stated your case time and again
I thought about it 
You treat me like I'm a princess
I'm not used to liking that
You ask how my day was 
You've already won me over in spite of me
Don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet
Don't be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn't help it
It's all your fault    

Your love is thick and it swallowed me whole
You're so much braver than I gave you credit for
That's not lip service 

Repeat Chorus 

You are the bearer of unconditional things
You held your breath and the door for me
Thanks for your patience    
You're the best listener that I've ever met
You're my best friend
Best friend with benefits   
What took me so long    
I've never felt this healthy before
I've never wanted something rational
I am aware now
I am aware now 

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