There’s a woman in my church who wears a proper church crown. I call it that because it deserves the name. It’s a royal blue, straw hat with plastic sunflowers emanating from the brim. She wears it proud, as each year of the 93 she’s been alive has earned her the right to wear it, and nothing could take that crown from her head.
I wish we lived in an era where it were not only appropriate but fashionable for women to wear church crowns. Hell, as a pastor, I wish it were fashionable for women to just come to church. But, barring that, I wish women would bring the hat back. Because when a woman wears a hat, a real hat, it lets everyone know that she is not to be trifled with, not to be played. A woman in a church crown is a woman who runs shit.
I suppose I should define church crown. A church crown isn’t just a hat. Every grandmother has a hat she’ll break out when the weather gets warm and the sun beats down. This is not that hat. In fact, if you’ve never been to a prayer meeting, you don’t know what a church crown is. Church crowns don’t just cover your head and keep you cool; church crowns let everyone know you’re in church. When you stand up to praise, it’s your hat that’s seen. That royal purple blob twenty pews ahead? That’s Dotty, praying for Raymond, like she has the last twenty years. And damn if you don’t put your head down and pray that this might be the week Ray finally gets it.
After 30 years of church, the sight of an honest church crown can put my chin into my neck for a minute of prayer, or simply some good old “yes ma’am”, even when I’m running the show. When Phyllis shows up with that sunflower halo, I know she needs Jesus, and I know she needs prayer. She’s got a dozen hats that she wears for church, but Sunday School kids that graduated before I was born made her that one. When she deigns to bring that to the congregation, we all know. We all pray.