A Stole for Ordinary Time

Take my yoke upon you….for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

About 7 years ago, a Lutheran pastor and I discussed movement away from congregations owning buildings. We talked about a more flexible church. We chatted excitedly about moveable altars and banners and worshippers with electronic tablets, not hymnals, in hand. We talked about a church closer to daily life, a life of evangelism and stewardship. It was a great conversation between a Lutheran pastor and a Lutheran artist. And from that conversation came the vision for a different approach to vestments.

I have been dreaming of this stole for at least two years: a stole that proclaims the secular world in a sacred space.
heidi n bethheidi close up

The stole is made from cotton lawn, which has been dyed twice and then stenciled with both paint and ink. I chose the cotton lawn because it is a natural fiber, it is light weight, and it has a smooth weave for mark and print making. The small sequin tassels are constructed from cotton thread and sequins made from Mississippi River shells. They add weight to the hemline. The neckline is tied with yarn hand-dyed by my daughter.

The theme of the stole is journey and growth. I used screen prints of a labyrinth and an abstracted map, representing the roads we venture upon and the paths we walk in daily life. Leaves layered over and around the journey prints symbolize the growth that occurs before, during, and as a result of our travels. A cross appears in the lower right corner as a reminder that Christ calls us to new adventures. The three crosses near the heart represent our community in Christ.
I accordion-folded the neckline fabric, tied it securely with yarn, and let the fabric release into folds. Journey is expansive. The white circles of shell suggest path markers, or perhaps seeds. They are attached with knotted cotton cord. I often use knots in liturgical work, as they suggest work, completion, places to pause.

The stole weighs less than 4 ounces, less than half of many of the other stoles in my inventory. Weight is rarely a scale for evaluating a stole, but if a congregation is itinerant, that could become an important factor.

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