Monday, May 25, 2009

The Burgundy Shawl

When I first wore the burgundy shawl it was Christmas, 1978. It was a gift from Frannie, the office manager at the investment firm I worked for. I delivered stocks in downtown Denver. Knowing I was a free spirit, she figured that I was a person who would wear shawls. She was right.

Since then, this 3’by3’ woven square of wine-colored woolen yarn has served me well. It has sheltered me through 3 marriages, 2 divorces, 2 childbirths, countless menstrual moons, as well as menopause.

It reminds me of how my Grandpa Johnson complimented me whenever I wore red.

Worn around my neck in the winter it’s protected me from chills. Worn around my waist, I am a gypsy. Worn as a head scarf, I am a Muslim or Audrey Hepburn. Held in my hands, it can unfurl into a moving cloud of color, I am a belly dancer. It has been a blanket for picnics and sudden sex.

Countless meditations have been marked by wrapping it around my body, to cocoon the flesh and allowing my inner self to merge into oneness.

As my prayer rug, I have prayed in the Muslim tradition as a Sufi, facing Mecca.

As an altar cloth, it has served as I have honored my ancestors and celebrated the pagan high holidays, both outside under the stars and inside in solitary rituals.

The fringe around the edge still quavers in the breeze.

This shawl is steeped in the many flavors of my life. It carries forward what I once was into what I am now, reminding me of that inner fiber that is always the same no matter how it is styled and used from day to day.

--by Terra Rafael

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