“Getting a little short down south, don’t you think?”
I was mortified! Our junior high assistant principal, the one in charge of school discipline, had singled me out in the hallway. I only hoped he wouldn’t make me kneel down in front of him to see if my hem touched the wooden floor boards. Giving him a wide-eyed “I don’t think so!” I quickly got lost in the crowd of teens changing classes. But I made a mental note to check that skirt in the mirror one more time when I got home.
Dresses and skirts were the rule for girls my entire public school career. This was almost unhealthy at times during those frigid Northern Michigan winters, but we didn’t complain… much. In grade school, I had the choice of tucking my skirt into a billowing pair of snow pants or else wearing those warm, waterproof leggings “more fashionably” underneath.
My mom always wore a dress or skirt… shopping, church, even around our home. They actually called those everyday garments housedresses. Years later there was a controversy in one of our churches when the older ladies petitioned to wear pantsuits to worship services. They had had enough of cold legs in the winter!
I loved watching the full swing of my older sisters’ skirts and dresses, and I couldn’t wait to inherit them. Unfortunately the styles of the sixties changed so drastically that I missed out. Maybe that’s why I still enjoy watching the young girls swirling their skirts during Mexican folk dances.
I do remember my own children hiding behind my skirts during introductions to strangers. My oldest darling also learned to hang on to my skirt when we crossed the street, since I was holding the baby in one arm and firmly clasping the hand of her little brother with the other.
Men and skirts have a history too. In the Bible it’s sometimes the edge of a robe, but it can also be a full-length skirt. Even today in some cultures it’s a common garment for men to wear.
The Scottish kilt has an interesting history. For awhile, until modern warfare, it was the go-to military uniform. It had its advantages when the army was crossing the heather-strewn hills and valleys. Damp woolen trousers would have weighed the soldiers down or would have snagged in brambles. Wading across rivers in a skirt was a simpler maneuver too.
There are other skirts common to both men and women.
Sometimes we decide to skirt a city on our trips. Thankfully, most major cities have an interstate that circles the downtown area. What we have found, however, is that the “outskirts” of town have often moved right past this bypass, and the congestion is almost worse than if we’d taken the more direct route through the heart of the city.
To avoid danger or being discovered, we may skirt around an area. God put the Israelites on these detours during their wandering years when they hadn’t reached their full strength in confidence and trust in Him (Judges 11:18 NIV).
Most of the time, though, we realize after the fact that we have eluded a problem or danger unknowingly. That’s when the prayers of thanks for allowing us to skirt those disasters are most fervent!
At one time or another we have all “skirted the issue” to avoid controversy. It would make for total lack of civility if we rose to the occasion on every comment we didn’t agree with.
But then there are the sneaky skirts… skirting the rules.
There’s an actual pendant being sold these days with “Skirt the Rules!” engraved on it. It sells for $58… but sorry… it was all sold out on the website I checked.
So I guess the wearer is trying to avoid the rules without actually breaking them. Other useful euphemisms for this action would be hedge, fudge, evade, circumvent, dodge, duck, or even sidestep. And by the way, I wonder what rules he or she is thinking of skirting?
Well, if you want to really do some hardcore skirting… try skirting the law. Someone knowingly breaks the law but is using loopholes or procedural errors to get away with it. If you can’t afford a good lawyer to get you out of trouble, there is actually a book on how to skirt the law… for fun and profit! It only got two stars, so maybe the author’s advice wasn’t that reliable.
I can’t stand it when people seem to get away with this kind of skirting. That’s when I wish God each morning would ask the dawn to “take hold of the skirts of the earth” and shake the wicked out of them (Job 38:12-13 RSV).
But that would include me too. No matter what you call this skirting, it really is being less than honest… with myself… with my friends and family… with God. And I desperately hope I’m not discovered.
Our Lord doesn’t fall for the skirting trick. After all, He has dealt with that master of deception, that artful dodger, forever. And so, it seems, have I. Satan whispers in my ear that I can justify my sinful actions, “skirt God’s law” for my own gain, even for fun. Yet I know… really I do… that it’s just a scam.
Thank goodness for God’s skirt. In Ezekiel 16:18, when He is speaking about how he found the people of Jerusalem, naked in their sin, looking for someone to care for them, to love them, He “spread His skirt over them,” covered their sin, and took them for His own. Again.
And when I’m tired of skirting the issue of just who I truly am in His sight... when I feel abandoned and long for forgiveness and acceptance... my Lord Jesus is right there. Again.
I feel the gentle cover of His understanding and unconditional love floating down on me. And I am His.
Again and always.
Leaving my guilt at the cross,