I looked at the man with a serious demeanor but didn’t recognise him. He was staring grimly right back at me. The facial features looked familiar but the hair on top was dark in the middle and the tufts sticking out on the side were clearly – very clearly – grey. He was an older man and there was no way to escape the fact. And I sensed that he wasn’t happy about it.Read more: Older me, older you
Yes, definitely and disturbingly older. I glanced at the chopped hair lying in clumps on the barber’s gown draped over my not-so-slim midriff. They were grey.
This was my first visit to a barber shop since before the Covid pandemic. In fact, probably a long time before that. I would say it had been four long years. “I can do it myself”, was the explanation given to my wife, who nodded with a quizzical expression. Yet the time of survival with masks and isolating at home was over. It was time to embrace so-called freedom again. For me, that meant putting my clippers back in a drawer and heading outside for a haircut.
The problem is that the last time I went there wasn’t so much grey hair. Yes, a bit of a smattering but my darker tones dominated. I had a sense of youthfulness. Now… the middle years were clear to see. I was shocked.
“You look like a new man,” said the young barber, as he added finishing touches. He was likely about 20 years younger than me. A nice comment. The sort of affirmation you give to an old man needing a positive word.
Then the shop door opened. A fellow elderly chap strolled in. He was some years ahead of me and his mop of hair was completely grey. In fact, it was beautifully snowy white like Santa Claus and it didn’t seem to bother him. He sat down nonchalantly and chatted to the other barber, another youngster, without a care in the world. I turned and looked at myself in the mirror again. I was jealous of this man’s white hair. How odd. A moment before, I hated my grey hair and now I wanted to have this other customer’s beautiful white hair.
Human beings are so fickle. Look at the millions spent in the beauty industry. We’d do anything to stop getting older and yet we still do increase in years. Even so, choices have to be made to either feel a pining for youthfulness – as I did. Or accept the situation and be full of good cheer. Remembering that God is with us really helps: ‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.’ (2 Cor 4:16).
That spiritual renewal from Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, is what give us a reason to still get on with life in our autumnal and winter years. Trusting Him. “Even to your old age and grey hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4)
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