In a very creative blog post (complete with pictures!), The Rev. Heidi Haverkamp finds herself wondering about her clergy collar in a moment of decision:
Would I go into Target as a pastor? Or as a person?
I feel ashamed whenever I feel I have to make this decision. Am I ashamed of my work? Don’t I want to be a public witness to the existence of women in the clergy? Why not make myself available to people who might want to talk to a pastor?
But I feel like a spectacle. Especially as a girl in a collar – a young one, at that.
Haverkamp addresses the confusion that many have in seeing her in a collar, and the challenge they have in reconciling it with their assumptions.
She also addresses some of the other sides of the attention she gets while in a collar, and asks important questions:
Collar-wearing has never brought words of fury down on my head, but it attracts attention. And sometimes, I don’t have the emotional energy for confused looks or awkward comments. “Are you a nun?” “You seem awfully young to be a minister.” “I’m not that into organized religion.” “I’m so glad to see a woman pastor!” Instead of a person, I’m a symbol of The Church. I imagine members of the military feel the same when they’re in uniform – they’re not a person, they’re A Soldier.
Some will say that I AM different, that I do represent The Church and I should claim that. Maybe they’re right. But I’m not sure that’s my theology for the priesthood – to stand apart as a More Spiritual Person. To be a Public Religious Leader. To be a Holy Presence wherever I go. Must clergy always be public property in that way? I belong to the people of my congregation yes – I am theirs. Their priest, comforter, person-to-pray-for-them, preacher, and teacher. But am I also that for everyone I meet? For the people in Target? Does wearing a collar even communicate that message?
Or does it just mark me as a novelty?