An email and a news story are responsible for this bit of musing. I received an email from a friend who was reading our parish newsletter. He came across the reference to a 7 foot long hair clog that was removed from the drain pipe in the rectory (solving the slow drain of second floor fixtures). In our exchange we joked about it being “holy” hair and a religious relic. I have seen in various places bits of hair that are kept and in one degree or another venerated. From the first curls of an infant to the hair of a president, saint or celebrity in a scrapbook or on public view in a display case we keep these things as mementos. Kept as an icon through which we can remember and return to or make present a past event or time of life.
In the newspaper today was an article about a family shelter, a photographer and a local church that teamed up with a hair stylist and cosmetologist to offer to the resident families an opportunity to take family portraits. Many of these families had lost family photographs – icons of their children’s growing up years. Here was an opportunity to take a portrait, which might create new and better memories as they move into a new future.
It raises for me the question of what are the icons for our memories? Windows through which we make present people, times or events we cherish? What are the holy relics we have in our life or in the lives of our churches and faith communities?
And it also makes me more conscious of intentionally trying to find ways to help people gather these icons for themselves and for the church. Our liturgy is all about making present and real the risen Christ in our midst. It is about the Communion of Saints. Seen and unseen we all gather around the table to break bread and share the cup. And each congregation has its own traditions and icons that invite people to be aware of the presence of God within and all around.
And while we won’t be putting our rectory hair clog on display nor using it to recall rectory families past – we will be giving thanks for images and things which connect us to those who have gone before us in faith and witness, aware that we need to create those icons thorough which we can connect with those not yet among us.