25 Feb 2017

Don't Ever Lose Your Skin

Selkies are mythical creatures, in legends of coastal towns in Scotland, Ireland, and the Faroe Islands. They are said to be seals while in the ocean, but able to shed their skin on land to take human form. They can transition back to seals, so long as they maintain control of their skin.

A dear friend once said to me that she wasn't entirely convinced that I'm not a selkie.  She knows I adore the water, and tend to spend as much time as possible on or in the water.  She knows that my favourite scriptures are connected to water - the waters of creation, the waters of baptism, the living waters that come from God alone.

At a particularly difficult time in my life, she reminded me of my selkie-ness with one phrase: "Don't ever lose your skin."

It was powerful. It was a moment when I realised that I had been so caught up in the whirlwind of life that I had started to lose connection with who - and whose - I am.

My 'skin' is, of course, my faith. It is what connects me to God: through the creative waters that made me, through the cleansing waters of my baptism, through the source of the living waters of Christ alone.

My faith is with me. It surrounds me. It is part of me. It influences all I do. I wear my faith like I wear a skin. And so it is important that I know where it is, at any time: it's like a selkie keeping track of her seal skin.

Having been intentional about NOT losing my skin during (and after) that tumultuous time in my life, I keep reminders around. Part of my journey is to daily reflect on what it means to wear my faith. I have a small soapstone seal (a gift from the same friend) that sits on my nightstand. I have a small tattoo of a seal, an indelible physical reminder of my skin at all times and places.  

I have my skin. I cherish my skin. I work to maintain my skin. I won't ever lose my skin.

My wish is that all of us might find some symbol of our faith that will embrace us and support us, and tie together the head and the heart of our faith; a constant reminder of who we are and whose we are; a connection between the life promised to us by our Christ and the daily earthly reality. My prayer is that we might all have our own 'seal skin' to cherish.

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