My Name Is Not Noah

Have you ever owned an article of clothing that you just can’t part with, no matter that it doesn’t fit and is way out of style? Do you hope to lose weight to be able to wear it again? Are you hoping the fashion trend will cycle back? Are you holding on to your youth? Does it enable you to relive a certain memory? Is it deeply connected to a person or time you’d like to bring back?

Like most women, I’m not willing to trash my wedding gown though it is damaged. Among other items, I can’t throw out a pair of my baby socks, even though I never put them on my own kids. And there is this Emmaus teaming shirt that I can’t bear to part with. While the walk to Emmaus was a wonderful experience at a time in my life that it was needed, the teaming experience was not near so pleasant. (And this shirt is a connection to the teaming process.)

The walk to Emmaus is basically designed to equip people with the tools needed to take back to one’s own church and serve. One can not just attend Emmaus. It is by invitation only. The entire weekend is focused on one’s personal relationship with God. It’s all about love and acceptance. Most people get caught up in the energy of a crowd, whether it be a convention or a revival. It is contagious. I was no different. I must insert here that I’ve been known to watch high school pep rallies and get teary-eyed and arms covered in goose bumps. Yes, I am an emotional being who is easily caught up in the moment around me.

At any rate, I walked away from this event ready to take on the world. My friend asked me to team an Emmaus Walk with her. I thought there couldn’t be anything more wonderful than returning the love and acceptance that was showered upon me. I had never given much consideration to the fact that it was considered a somewhat secretive community as it was by invitation only, and one was not allowed to speak of it’s events to outsiders. There were several weeks of training to prepare for the big weekend event. The people teaming on the event are given shirts that are artistically altered by other members with images that reflect the owner of the shirt and other religious symbols and references. My shirt was painted with the artist’s vision of Noah’s Ark, my favorite bible story and included my favorite bible scripture. This work is secretly passed along to other members to add their flair upon it. The artist of the original work on the back as well as the little bits and pieces is not supposed to be revealed. This revelation takes the focus off of God and puts it on one another. However, let’s just say I was told (not that I even remember now!) who painted my shirt.

The teaming process to me stemmed from a clique. Do I need to tell you what a distaste I have for cliques? (In fact, I suppose the whole community can be considered a clique to a degree.) All decisions were supposed to be prayed over…decisions like who would hold what positions, give talks, etc… I found it strange that the people who were in charge of all these positions were the very ones who prayed over the decisions. I didn’t not find teaming to be a welcoming experience. I did the job I was called to do, and left the community. I know the saying that God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called. At least, I think that is the saying. My name is not Moses. Nor Noah. Or even Jonah, for that matter. I think I failed at my mission. As soon as I got involved in the politics around me, I lost my heart. I realize that my feelings are my responsibility. I did not feel like I was a part of the community nor did I feel I carried out my responsibilities with the authenticity that was required. My connection had been severed. Anyway, I left that weekend with a sense of loss. I questioned the hearts of others. This is my problem not theirs. And this was just the beginning of my disillusion of organized religion.

So why, oh why, do I insist on hanging on to this shirt? I don’t have the answer. Maybe, it’s because it is pretty with the my favorite scripture and story attached with love and grace. Maybe, I want to push myself back to the time that I walked it not served it. Maybe, I want to remember the zest I had at that time. Maybe, I need to remember what it feels like to be left out to show compassion to include others. Maybe, I need this as a reminder that I can be a spiritual student without being in the confines of those set by man. Maybe, this tells me that my religion/spirituality is between me and God and it goes much deeper than the clothes I wear.

32 thoughts on “My Name Is Not Noah

  1. ” Maybe, this tells me that my religion/spirituality is between me and God and it goes much deeper than the clothes I wear. ” I love this. It resonates.

    Holding onto this shirt is what altared spaces are all about for me. The things I touch and can’t let go of…they have something to tell me. I want to listen to the juxtapositions and contradictions until I’ve heard all that shirt (or in my case recently, the number 11) have to tell me. When the story is unwound, I find my somethings typically let go of me.

    Thanks so very much for telling this story.

    • This was actually a writers group assignment to write about a piece of clothing you can’t let go of. The reasons I’ve kept other articles are oblvious…this wasn’t so I thought I’d explore it a bit. Thanks for reading. Can’t wait to hear about the number eleven.

  2. I love the way you put this and that you have the shirt to remind you of so many things God taught your heart.
    I, too, dislike exclusion and cliques. One of my favorite books that helped me not be an excluder was, Just Walk Across the Room, by Bill Hybel. I learned to reach out, not look down. The other was the Bumper Sticker man – Dan Merchant in “Lord Save us From our Followers”.
    He has a few clips on youtube and you can read about the movie. It’s really fantastic.

  3. I am not a fan of organized religion either- cuz humans muck it up. But I do understand wanting to hold onto memories- of the energy and fire, of the love you felt, of the work you did. The other gobbly-gook is just the muck that gets in the way.

  4. ” Do I need to tell you what a distaste I have for cliques?”

    OMG, I feel exactly the same way you do when it comes to cliques, Suzi!

    Infact, I’m not one to be a part of groups or invitation only groups. Just the word ‘invitation’ makes me feel apprehensive about joining a group.

    I honestly think you nailed it right on the head, by saying….

    “Maybe, this tells me that my religion/spirituality is between me and God and it goes much deeper than the clothes I wear. ”

    Throughout my youth and part of my adulthood, I opening investigated various religions; hoping to find one that felt ‘right’ to my soul. Only to come to the conclusion that everyone has a different relationship with spirit, therefore there is no ‘one way’ to God.

    Every way is personal.

    And I also feel that our relationship with God is forever changing, as we change.

    I love the shirt! It’s so colorful and cheerful! And I think it’s great that you still hang onto it because the experience associated with it taught you much.

    Great post, Suzi! Enjoyed it!


    • Strange as it might seem, since I’ve veered away from the church my spirituality has grown much deeper. I think it’s mainly because I am thinking and searching for myself rather than simply believing and accepting what is told to me. I am becoming an active participant in my own spiritual life.

  5. You may not be Jonah or Moses, but they didn’t have it all together all the time either! Jonah was running away from God’s call to him, and the first thing Noah did when he got on dry ground was get drunk! And let’s not forget Abraham, who lied to save his own life and laughed when God told him he would have a child. Despite their “failings,” The point is, God didn’t break his promises to them. Keep the shirt. It’s a reminder of something much bigger than the event. 🙂

  6. I liked this, Suzicate. Very insightful, and it let me see another part of you, so thank you for sharing. 🙂 I have a cowgirl belt that belonged to my Grandmother. It was special made. I’ll never wear it – it’s just not my thing, but I love it to pieces, because it was my Grandmother’s…and it WAS her thing, because she loved horses and outdoors and the west.

  7. Coincidental that yesterday I also wrote about the sentimental things I’ve kept over the years. I hold onto things that instill good memories. If something has a bad memory attached, I toss it.

    I may have a divergent opinion here. When religion is part of our social systems and institutions, community is built, as is support. Same with sin. When sin becomes part of our social systems it becomes accepted in a way, and bigger and stronger than any one person’s personal choice. For this reason and many other reasons, keeping religion personal, not talking about it, and not building a sense of community and common way of thinking…in my opinion…opens the window wider for the opposite to occur. I’d love to hear other opinions on this. Reply away!

    • I haven’t really thought about it in that aspect. But I know almost everything gets twistedonce society as a whole gets involved. I can say that once I started dealing with spirituality on a personal level rather than a community level, I have experienced tremendous growth…but that might not be the experience of others.

  8. I like holding on to certain sentimental items from the past. I believe it is my love of nostalgia.
    Also, I wanted you to know that what you said about cliques completely resonated with me.

  9. I can’t tell you why you are holding onto the shirt. I would imagine that part of the reason could be because it is special. Regardless of how it all turned out and made you feel it is still special to have been invited and it was made especially for you.

    It IS pretty.

    I am often saddened by how churches and groups that come together to worship end up being orgainizations filled with cliques and politics. But that is usually what happens when people are involved.

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