This morning, I’m wearing black, white, and red, a favorite combination of mine. I really enjoy wearing something that is at once very classic and also vibrant and high-contrast. I associate black and white lines with text, which is obviously a favorite thing of me, and red with fire, power, passion, beauty, and love—so that color, anywhere, brings me great joy. I have a long and deep relationship with the color red, and my preference for it is insurmountable.
I don’t love many things as much as I love the color red.
I declared something else “my favorite” the other day, and a friend dismissed it with “Yeah, well, you pretty much have a favorite EVERYTHING.”
It’s true. I do. I declare “favorites” all the time, and it’s not just that I’m prone to hyperbole.
Declaring “favorites” stems from an innate impulse to hallow things—to take that which is good and declare it sacred.
I want to mark something as so good it must belong to God.
Sometimes I declare someone to be “my favorite”. Often I’m referring to someone else, but sometimes I look right at a person and say, “You. You are my favorite.” Another friend dismissed this as “Jess, you have a lot of people who are your favorites. That doesn’t mean much.”
But that’s not true. It means everything. What I mean is that in that moment, I have powerfully understood that you (my favorite) are fearfully and wonderfully made. I know it. Right here. Right now. I have seen that your presence in this day is a great gift from God to us so we must worship.
In that moment, a debt of gratitude to our Creator drives my affection for you. Or, my affection for you reminds me of my gratitude debt to our Creator.
(I also fear I can’t afford to run around spouting that hallowing speech without sounding like a lunatic. I temper my passion with the word “favorite” so people don’t run away and I don’t lose further opportunity to hallow them. )
To spend my days on the hunt for new favorites, as I do, is to mine my days for the sacred.
You see, I am hungry for the sacred—I believe sacraments of God’s presence are in the very ordinary, and the act of hallowing brings us present with His presence.
I just caught my reflection in the mirror, and my black, white, and red really calls attention to my lack of makeup. It’s a crime against the color red to wear this gorgeous scarf (from a friend) without its matching lipstick. Black clothes make my features even more pale and I can’t find my eyes. Discouraged, I suddenly recalled these lines, from a favorite poem of mine. “Love took my hand and smiling did reply/ ‘Who made the eyes but I?’”
That poem is one of my favorite representations of God’s voice. I’ll let the poem speak for itself, but I offer it to you. .
Maybe you, too, will feel compelled to make it a “favorite.”
by George Herbert
Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d anything.
“A guest,” I answer’d, “worthy to be here”;
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”
“Truth, Lord, but I have marr’d them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.
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