For four years I was an Assemblies of God minister and a monk with the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at the Little Portion Hermitage. This is an excerpt from my book Taking Off My Comfortable Clothes: Removing Religion to Find Relationship.
After I moved to the Little Portion Hermitage and made my three-year commitment to poverty, chastity, and obedience, I put on the clothing of a monk-a brown, one-piece hooded robe called a “habit.” That habit was a concrete reminder that the way I walked, worked and worshiped was about to change.
Having grown up in Southern California wearing either shorts or Levi’s most of the year, learning to walk in a long, dress-like garment that nearly touched the floor took some practice. John Michael gave me detailed instructions on how walk up and down stairs, get in and out of cars gracefully, and even ride a camel. Moreover, the way I carried myself did not go unnoticed by those I went to church with at Berryville First Assembly of God in Arkansas.
Not long after I left the community, our church had a ceremony for the Honor Stars – those girls around twelve years old who have completed the Missionettes program (Missionettes is the Christian version of the Girl Scouts.) They all came to church one night in long gowns, and had to walk up a couple of stairs in order to reach the platform. While I was standing in the back talking to one of the mothers, her daughter came up to me, and in a hushed tone said, “Jim, how do you walk up stairs in a long dress?” Without words, I showed her how to maneuver her dress modestly, and she imitated the feat perfectly, climbing onto the platform without a hitch. I’m still amused that she asked me and not her mother! The scene begs the question: Are people asking your advice on how to walk in Christ? Continue Reading