My Mother’s No Dirty Hippie


My mother is what I like to call a clean hippie.  Thanks to her; I both apreciate the value of a good pair of Birkenstocks,while still abhorring the smell of patchouli.  I eat tofurky and soyrizo, but never reuse the pickle jar for bulk flaxseed.  I only buy cotton tampons, but never fall for the magic crystal deodorant.  Thanks to my mother I know all the words to every Joni Mitchell song ever recorded, but I have never known the joys of being chained to an endangered tree.

Growing up, the reason for all future counseling highlight of my summer was the Oregon Country Fair.  If you are picturing corn dogs and ferris wheels, then let me begin by saying; it is not that kind of fair.

For 30 years (give or take) and every July, hippies from all over descend upon a dusty campground in the middle of nowhere to celebrate . . . well . . . no one really knows what they are celebrating.  Vendors come and sell drums made of tree trunks, clothing made of hemp, and art made of all things recycled.  There is food too;  tofu and organic smoothies, “brownies” for dessert. 

But nothing compares to the entertainment.

Dreadlocked artists play blue grass and American Pie, the Children’s area features marionette puppet shows, and then there is the parade.   Twice daily the parade kicks up the dust with over sized kites, eclectic rhythms, and lots of naked people  . . . painted every color of the rainbow. 

It is dirty and stinky, and like no other experience in the world.  And my mother took us (my two sisters and me) every year.

She would braid our hair in two straight pig tails, then dress us in denim overalls.  No shirts. 

We would beg her for a tank top or t-shirt.  She would argue that we’d be too hot.  We would bargain for shorts and a top instead.  She came back with, “you’ll get dirty.”  

I hated those overalls and no shirts.  I hated the pigtails.  I hated them until I walked through the gates.  My mother would take me first to the pony ride.  The long pants kept my legs from rubbing on the saddle.  I rode comfortably looking for endangered species (dollar store quality stuffed animals) hidden in the trees.  After the pony ride, she bought me a flowered wreath from a small cart (the woman who sold them looked forward to seeing us every year), and the flowers slid perfectly over my braids.  I sat and watched the puppet show, in the dirt, and stayed clean enough to enjoy a garden burger after.  Though, I never was allowed to try a brownie.

My mother is a clean hippie. In the confines of our house and suburban neighborhood, overalls with no shirts felt strange and uncomfortable.  At the Oregon Country Fair, it was not only normal but necessary.  My mother knew that.

God tells us to daily put on armor.  Not literal metal, but one made of faith, righteousness, Spirit and truth, prayer, and His word.  The world we live in does not respect these things.  To many, they are  even strange and uncomfortable. 

 Even for me, they do not feel like enough. I would prefer sight over faith, perfection over righteousness, foreknowledge over spirit and truth,  action over prayer.  I must trust God even with my wardrobe.  He knows what I face.  Through Him, I am always dressed for the occasion.

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