Saturday, November 11, 2017

Your hairdresser knows

The first few hairs floated to the scrubbed floor, as I watched the first haircut of the week at my local barbershop.  Two other barbers stood at attention behind their chairs waiting for clients. As I hung up my coat, my guy was still setting up his tools after his weekend break. I grabbed a folding chair anticipating his invitation to take my perch.

In that brief moment, a thought of the divine came to mind. Jesus said God cares for us so much, he counts the hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7). And now we know DNA testing can identify our unique biological fingerprints with a single strand from each of our bodies.

The people who trim and razor us are earthly keepers of a heavenly inventory. For most of us, we have an unusually intimate relationship with our stylists. Few get that close to us for so long and so often. We certainly can't chat with our dentists or hygienists while their hands are in our mouths. Thank goodness we don't need to see them once a month.

My Chicago barber hails from my home state, Michigan, so we have a lot in common, although his beard is much fuller, longer and darker than mine. This month, after our usual small talk, we moved to the subject of health. Ironically, he shared that his dear wife has no hair. She suffers from alopecia, a disease where the immune system attacks hair follicles. My best friend fights this disease, too. He shaves his head and jokes about it, explaining his baldness with a rhetorical question, "Have you seen the price of shampoo?"

But for a woman to live without hair, takes real courage. Sometimes, my barber joins his wife at alopecia support groups and with his dark mane, he's the hairiest person in the room.

However, he's not the Samson in their relationship. She's the strong one, also fighting psoriasis; these autoimmune disorders travel in twos and threes like birds of a feather. You might think wigs would be the simple solution, but I know my wife, Ellen, hated hers when she shaved her head during chemotherapy for breast cancer. Hot and unnatural, fake hair was not her style. I know a guy who shaves his head to support his wife during her battle with breast cancer. She's been fighting it for years.

My barber's wife enjoys the freedom of her hairless head; her curse is a convenience, saving her time in the mirror and sparing curlers and products.

All the while, the craftsman scissored and clipped, hot lathered and shaved my head, neck and face as he spoke candidly about his personal life and asked me questions to show he cared about mine.

As I walked home with time to ponder our conversation, I considered the Scripture depicting our Creator taking time to inventory our hairs. Perhaps a little like the way a parent kisses the fuzzy head of a beloved baby.

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