These are dark days, friends. The mercury screams past 80 degrees, cackling as it goes, and we are without respite. How long, oh Lord, must we leave our lightweight fabrics in the closet?
I’ve been thinking a lot about the article that Stephanie Gehring wrote here about dressing for Lent. It was challenging to examine my pride and ego, and consider what it would mean to pare down my wardrobe to a few essentials during the Lenten season. But it also reminded me that, like any other Lenten fast, it comes to a celebratory end on Easter Sunday. What then? If the purpose of the “clothing fast” was to focus on God’s provision, on living simply and humbly, what is the proper Easter response?
I grew up in Texas, which is a Southern state and not at the same time. The Deep South is as different from Houston as it is from Philadelphia in a lot of ways. The genteel aspects, in particular, are lost on us. But by association with Southern transplants to Houston, I’ve come to respect and enjoy the tradition of seasonal dressing rules, and I think that it’s one tradition that can be easily bent to serve a liturgical purpose.
Briefly, the rule states that light colors like white and airy fabrics like seersucker are only to be worn between Easter and Labor Day. There are exceptions and blatant rulebreakers enough to complicate the rule and make this into an Emily Post, er, post, but for the sake of this argument, let’s focus on the application to Easter.
Winter and fall clothes are heavy by necessity and darker in hue by tradition. So when the oceans of grays and browns give way to the sudden sea of light blue striped seersucker, pastel ties, white shoes and linen dresses on Easter Sunday, it’s like the coming of Spring itself, celebrating new life with a vibrant and (yes) ostentatious display.
Christians believe that the Lord provides his people with the clothes on their back, and that He clothed Himself in humility, but also adorned the fields with beauty. When the spring flowers burst forth from the dark of winter, it’s a chorus of creation repeating the resurrection once again. If one can wear his resurrection literally on his sleeves, not for pride or peacocking, for one Sunday or several, he can be a pale comparison of those spring fields.
Now if Easter would just get here a little sooner, because I’m burning up here, and my seersucker suit is looking mighty appealing.