Dressing Up After the Change by Hank Slikker

    I’ve never been much on fashion, but how I appear in public has a little bit to do with how I dress. I never want to leave a bad impression. For the most part, however, my checkbook and my comfort govern my dress. Being comfortable, for me, is better than being cool.

    This doesn’t mean I’m against fashion. I would enjoy having a laundered tuxedo hanging in the closet to wear at least once a week. Like the dressed up stars at the Oscars, I would really impress my wife. But in my world not many of us ever wear tuxedos and black gowns. Unless I’m getting married tomorrow, my daily fashion depends a lot on what’s clean.

    You may chuckle, but as a contemplative person I’ve often wondered about the theology of clothes. For a practical answer, I think the reason for clothes is others. We have to cover up so that others can’t see what we don’t want them to see. Sure, when our first parents said “no” to the Creator, they caused the mysterious change, but what did their “no” have to do with their clothes? Was it climate change? Did what they do turn everything cold?

    I’m not sure what they thought about covering up, but no doubt, if Adam wanted a new suit, he would have to hunt for it, and Eve would have to learn to sew. While Eve may be named “the mother of all living,” we might also name her the mother of all fashion.

    But the change went deeper. Suddenly, the inner person needed clothing, too. The big “no” dried up the heart’s garden and turned its naked fragrance into a mound of smelly guilt. Selfishness replaced virtue, and discord replaced harmony. Life at home would never be the same. Looking for fault, Adam’s family began to point fingers. Adam blamed Eve and the Creator who gave her to him, and Eve blamed the tempter.

    Even worse, the heart would never recover. It became sad, dark and inadequate — dressing itself in artificial flowers. In heaven, the angels cried. The two children of God had fallen down, and the singing stopped.

    Word artists have portrayed the changed heart in various ways. When the Tin Man asked for the heart that the Great Oz had promised him, the Oz answered, “Why, as for that, I think you are wrong to want a heart. It makes most people unhappy. If you only knew it, you are in luck not to have a heart.”

    In his dystopian novel “Heart of Darkness,” James Conrad explores the theme of darkness lurking beneath the surface of us “civilized” persons, in whom the heart knows no difference between good and evil.

    Also, as one poet-singer sings, this kind of heart has trouble doing what it was made for:

    “… In the human heart an evil spirit can dwell

    “I’m trying to love my neighbor and do good unto others

    “But oh, mother, things ain’t going well” (“Ain’t Talkin,” Bob Dylan).

    Fortunately, God stepped in to reverse the problem, and heaven would sing once again. For Him, real fashion goes deeper than skin and beyond wardrobes. What impresses Him is a beautiful heart. But since the original one wears only artificial clothes, He decided to start over.

    He said, “I will give you a new heart … and remove the old one” (Ezekial 36:26).

    So, He made warehouses full of new hearts and gave them out to all children who want one — even for adults on their way to becoming children. The new heart would water its flowers with its own springs, and it would grow the flowers that grow in heaven: blossoms of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and all of the other heavenly fragrances.

    Would you like one?




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