About sixteen years ago I went for eight days with a group of women in August on a camping and canoeing trip to the northern boundaries of Minnesota; it is called the Boundary Waters. I was asked to bring a bandana on the trip to use as a wash clothe for cleaning. It ended up being used for all kinds of activities. This simple bandana became a symbol to me of an amazing trip which challenged the whole of me, mind/body and spirit.
I became very attached to it because of the memory it held for me. The next month I went off to study at Divinity School. I brought my beloved bandana with me, as I needed as many symbols of my ability to overcome obstacles as I could. There were many times that first year that I relied on many unlikely angels who told me that I could do the work, write the papers, and pass the tests.
One unlikely angel was my Greek studying buddy. We would translate and conjugate and after that we would go swimming. I know had it not been for this angel turned friend, my understanding and appreciation for Greek would have been a big challenge. Later in our school year she went to study in Greece. I sent my trusty bandana with her, sure that it would be a great asset for the sand and dust that would be part of the archeological dig she was on.
Upon her return she was going to travel with her parents abroad. I told her that she should just keep the bandana and share with her parents for their travel. To make a long story short that little bandana has continued to travel with my friend’s parents the last fourteen years. Every so often I get a postcard from the Red Bandana. It makes me smile to think of the simple beginnings of the bandana and the miles it has traveled since I brought it from Target in St. Paul MN.
In the readings for the Sunday, September 15th, the scriptures are full of the importance of the icon of the serpent used to heal the Israelites in the desert and later Jesus uses that image to describe his role in humanity. I think that these scriptures invite me to think about what my presence triggers in others. When I looked at my bandana I smile as it takes me back to my adventure that brought me a new level of confidence. The readings this week invite me to pause, what do people think of when they see me?