I Like Jeans and Sneakers
On Thursday after bible class, I drove over to the Garden State Plaza to buy Dragonwell Green Tea from the Starbuck's owned Teavana store. They were holding a great sale on the tea - 50% off - and since I was getting low, I thought I would take advantage of the savings. After I picked up 8 ounces of the green tea leaves at half off, I walked the mall's hallway to get back to the parking structure.
Outside of the Johnny Rockets restaurant, I heard a woman behind me say, "Excuse me, Father."
I turn around and see a nice couple walking up to me, smiling. They introduced themselves as visitors to New Jersey from Manhattan (they giggled at their joke). Their story was different - they told me that are former residents of New Jersey who got tired of high property taxes and got little in return from their municipality. A few years ago, they decided to hike over to the city and pay their outrageous taxes but receive the benefit of knowing that when they call the police, they will show up. On a staycation this week, they woke up this morning and had an epiphany while reading the New York Times - why not go over to Paramus and go shopping?
"Father, please excuse us, but I want to ask you a question," the woman said with a smile.
"We noticed that you are wearing the black priest shirt, but you're wearing blue jeans and black sneakers. We've never noticed a priest wearing such a combination."
Smiling, I told the couple that I actually have grown to like blue jeans. Since my early twenties, I stopped wearing jeans. Nothing caused me to stop wearing them - I just decided one day that I wanted to wear non-jean pants. I was this way until earlier this year when I made the decision to start wearing jeans again.
"Oh, my outfit. Yes, I am a clergyman, but I like jeans. And the sneakers? I like canvas black sneakers. They go with the outfit better than shoes."
Confused a bit, she asked me about whether I am giving off a different message by wearing jeans instead of black pants.
Telling them that I would still pray for someone in the mall if they asked or at a hospital, my jeans and sneakers say one thing: I like jeans and sneakers. The message I am sending is that jeans and sneakers are my preferred attire today.
"I just held a bible study class at my church wearing this exact same outfit." And I smiled at them.
The man looked at me and held out his right hand for a handshake. "I wish more priests were comfortable being themselves rather than playing a part."