Last night I attended a local civic event which recognized one community member and one non-profit organization for their commitment to the communities in which we live. It is always nice to see people recognized for their vision and commitment and the work they do to make the communities in which we live better for everyone. But, what caught my attention and got me thinking was not the laudatory remarks about the honorees or the proclamations made by local politicians, but the guitar player in the band that had been hired for the evening.
Remember this was a purely secular event. And, the music was selected so that middle aged people could dance to it. What stood our for me and made me look twice was that the guitar player wore a yamaka, a rounded skull cap worn by observant Jewish men mostly, but not exclusively, at religious services. And, more than that no one seemed to notice. I am sure wearing the yamaka was meaningful to the guitar player, but it was a complete non-event/non-issue to everyone else in the room. And, I am sure the same was true for any and all of the women whose jewelry included a cross on a necklace.
But, here is what I wonder…
What if one of the people in the band had been a Muslim woman who had made the choice to wear a headscarf? How many people would have noticed that and made comments about it over their cocktails before we were called to dinner? Is there anything different about her choice to wear a headscarf or his choice to wear a yamaka or her choice to wear a cross? I don’t think so. My guess (hope?!) is that for each of those individuals, more than just being a symbol of religious identity, their yamaka or headscarf or cross serves as a reminder to the wearer that they are called to serve God in how they live. Maybe we all would do well with such a reminder.