by Maria Evans
Although there are a lot of things to love about the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, it sells us a little short in today’s Epistle, in saying, “Prepare your minds for action.” The Mounce Reverse-Interlinear translation is a bit more graphic–“Gird up the loins of your mind.” (By the way, if you’ve ever wanted to gird up your loins, Biblical-style, you can follow the instructions for two different methods here, or here.)
Okay, stop giggling.
As it turns out, girding up one’s loins (or in this case, “The loins of our minds”) has a lot less to do with our loins and a lot more about our tunics. In Biblical times, the long tunics got in the way when it came to battle, foot racing, and hard labor. So men of Biblical times would gird up their loins so as not to trip or create a dangerous situation. (Oh, and just between us, I bet the women did it too, when the men weren’t looking.) In our Epistle today, we’re being asked, literally, to tie up the loose ends of our minds when we set them on Christ.
This isn’t always easy–after all, life is full of distractions, and even when we have the best intentions, we still trip over them now and then. Sometimes, in the middle of the race of life, we might discover we hadn’t tied those loose ends up as securely as we thought, and SPLAT! We’ve suddenly experienced a tunic malfunction and faceplanted ourselves, only to find ourselves picking cinders out of our knees while the rest of the runners pass us by. At other times, we might be thinking, “Oh, no worries–my tunic only hangs down a little bit–it’s not going to get in the way”–and we get in the middle of a task and…well…oops…no, the darn thing is hemming us in.
Without a doubt, there are no guarantees in life. Our best laid plans can and do go awry at times. Yet, this is one of the values of a spiritual practice, whether it is centering prayer, the Daily Office, keeping a personal intercessory prayer list, or any other spiritual discipline one might choose. Life and all its mishaps still happen–but the comforting sameness of a spiritual practice can at least help us to be as open as possible to see and appreciate the free-flowing gift of grace in our lives. Even when we trip over our own hemlines, we discover, as our Gospel reading mentions, that we were not orphaned. God was still there somehow in our brokenness.
When is a time you’ve landed flat tripping on your own tunic, only to find the hand of Jesus reaching out to help you up? What loose ends of your mind could stand a little girding up?
Maria Evans, a surgical pathologist from Kirksville, MO, is a grateful member of Trinity Episcopal Church and a postulant to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. You can also share her journey on her blog, Chapologist.
Image: From Huffington Post