He comes around every day that I am at my airport office and greets me. Since my chaplain duties at the airport are secondary to my pastoral duties, I am only sporadically in my airport office, so each time we greet it is a short conversation. His name is Manuel.
Manuel is a dapper gentleman, always meticulously dressed…and that’s what caught my attention. He is always dressed the same. Black shirt and faded, stonewashed jeans–also black. I don’t recall what set the conversation up, but I remember jokingly asking him how many black shirts and pants he had because that’s all I ever saw him in. His answer reduced my levity when he replied, without shame or pity, “One each.” Immediately I felt terrible for asking such a foolish question, but he simply explained that he washed his clothes every night in a sink with Woolite–underwear and all–and dries them with a hair dryer. That’s all he has.
At some point after this conversation my mind was flooded with the blessings I have and not desiring to ever take my life for granted, I embarked on my “Manuel” trip. I never want to forget how blessed I am with material things. Twice now, I have tried to live my week in the mindset of Manuel–I have washed and worn the exact same set of clothing for one week.
Yep, you got it. Every day the same shirt, same slacks, socks, underwear, shoes and jacket. Every night standing in front of a sink with a bottle of Woolite washing the clothes I wore that day. My clothes never smell or are wrinkled, and there’s nothing disheveled about my appearance; I simply wear the same clothes over and over, and I don’t tell anyone what I am doing unless they ask. And my fashion experience has shown me a lot about me and the people around me.
- I am MUCH MORE conscious of me than others are.
- It takes about three days before anyone says anything.
- I put WAY TOO MUCH emphasis on clothing and fashion.
- The people who eventually notice aren’t that judgmental about it.
- I am a prideful man–my pride is cloaked in the form of image consciousness.
I spoke of my experiment to my eldest daughter, Kimber, who teaches fifth grade, and she took what I said to heart. This morning she texted me and wrote, “Third day…Same outfit. So far I have learned that I am the one with the pride issue. Not those around me.” I am so proud of my daughter for being such a great Christian, great example, and a great human.
Here’s my prayer: “Lord, please help me annihilate my prideful nature, and revive a spirit of thankfulness within me.”