"The advice given to us in this text from Colossians reminds me of one of our former community customs. When I was a young sister, we were given a specific prayer to pray for each piece of clothing we put on in the morning. We called these 'dressing prayers.' Although we no longer use these prayers, they served as an excellent reminder of the holiness of our bodies and the need to put on Christ each day. They helped us to stay focused in the present moment. Since we knew these prayers by memory, the morning dressing ritual became a natural part of our day's beginning. For example, while putting on our religious habit we prayed, 'Through your grace, dear Lord, I wear this holy dress; grant that I may be entirely changed in you as I love and serve you in peace of heart.'
"Reflecting on this old monastic custom, I have adapted it and created a spiritual practice for dressing myself with the virtues. Although this is not something I do each morning, I often use this ritual for special seasons like Advent or Lent. Symbolically I practice putting on the virtues. It is a daily challenge to clothe myself with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, peace, and gratitude.
"I recommend this practice to you. Take gratitude, for example. How might you clothe yourself with gratitude? What prayer could you allow to flow out of your heart as you symbolically put on this virtue some morning? How about kindness and patience? As you dress yourself with these virtues, think of creative ways to ritualize them with gestures or words. Create your own 'dressing prayer' for each virtue. Unlike clothing in the department stores, this apparel never goes out of style. It is always in season.
"As I write this reflection, I am sitting in a garden park watching the trees undress themselves for the winter. The once green leaves of their spring and summer wardrobe are falling all around me, returning to the earth — a choreographed farewell. Just as the trees of autumn clothe themselves with emptiness and trust, surrendering leaves that are no longer needed, may we too be able to surrender all that detains us from putting on Christ.
"May we be able to live lives hidden with Christ in God!"