I am conducting a private experiment at St. Matthew’s. Since we have been offering Morning Prayer daily (7AM) I have been staying in my cassock for the remainder of the day, including visits, meetings and events. This also includes walking to local establishments for lunch. I have compiled a list of insights (so far).
1. It is impossible to wear a zucchetto in the wind. I guess I shall have to purchase a classic parson’s hat to complete the ensemble.
2. My eldest says that we share a terminal case of RBF (look it up, and I apologize for the language), but it is also impossible not to smile at the thought of a guy in a dress chasing said zucchetto/beanie down the sidewalk. Yes, I smile more on the daily walks. After all, with the beauty around us and the people we meet, why not smile if we have the joy of Jesus?
3. The classic footwear choices of cap toe Rockports or J&Ms are just not made for walking any significant distance. They sure do look good, but cannot compare with a good pair of sandals or boots (Corcoran).
4. Check the weather!
5. Say hello. Yes, the other walkers will initially look at you like you are a visitor from the planet weird, but being pleasant will usually bring on a smile (a real one not just a “be nice to the crazy person” smile) and even the exchange of a few words.
6. It is a good time to pray. I am able to pray for the Parish (both the Eucharistic Community and our neighborhood) on my walks.
7. So far, it has been intriguing to watch the behavior of others when the cassocked one is in the room. While I admit that the sample is small, I have observed that people are, in general, more polite to their fellows. The language that I hear is also a bit more pleasant and less, shall we say, aggressively vulgar.
8. And, of course, I am more aware of my own behavior and attitudes than ever I was in “clericals” alone. It interests me that I also adjusted to the weird looks and stares a lot more quickly than I would have thought. I am also much less reticent to begin conversations with people I do not know.
I think I will need a larger data set, so if you see me in the neighborhood and someone asks who the weirdo is, just say “my priest”. On the other hand, you could sit down with me, or even join me on the walk.