Sunday, July 24, 2005

Wheat and Lilies

Dorney Park, Pennsylvania. It's 98 degrees and everybody's in the wave pool or standing in line for the water slides. I'm on a beach chair, guarding the wallets.

Gorgeous, shapely girls walk by in tiny bikinis, diamonds glittering in their belly buttons. "Ouch," I think. My tummy is sensitive; I don't like needles. I have to admit that the jewelry accentuates a beautiful part of a woman's body — as Song of Songs puts it, the feminine stomach is "a mound of wheat encircled by lilies." But such an eye-catching strategy designed to show off naked skin in public makes me uncomfortable.

If you looked that good, you might flaunt it, too, a sinister voice whispers inside my head. But thanks be to God, a chorus of sisterly compassion silences any short-lived shallow hiss of envy.

Why supply yourself so readily to unknown eyes? I want to ask these girls. If it's that easy to display your sexual allure for crowds of strangers, how much natural girl-reserve is left in your psyche? You're given that modesty to fend off unwanted hands and eyes. It's your birthright as a woman.

I'm not saying you should wear a baggy t-shirt over your bathing suit at a water slide park. I'm not trying to lay down the law about bikinis (yellow-polka-dotted or otherwise) versus one-pieces versus the head-to-toe black purdah worn by the few Muslim women in the park. I'm talking about a heart-attitude of modesty that regulates your relationship with your own skin. Tend your wheat and lilies, girls, I want to say. And don't fret. God can repair the walls that protect your scented gardens.

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