Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Longing Made Me Do It

I've had short hair twice before, as short as an 1/8th inch length on the electric clippers. The first time, I was in college. My friends where doing it. I enjoyed the look on my parents' faces when they saw my new hair for the first time. Shock value was fun. And I liked the look.

Then, four years ago, I did the same thing. I was the mother of a 1-year-old.

Now, my 30th birthday is comign up in a few months and in many ways, to many people, I fit the mold of suburbia-Mom, shuttling my kids to school and dance class, doing the bulk of the grocery shopping, the laundry, the cooking. Now, my circle of acquaintances is broader, from more diverse backgrounds (think: school teachers, principal, dance instructors, professors, church people--not just scruffy college students). None of my woman-friends are buzzing their hair. If I defied expectations ten years ago, then I defy more now. Not to mention I'm supposed to preach/teach/chat for forty minutes in front of a bunch of people for the first time during a Sunday morning service this weekend.

All of this has nothing to do with my reasons for cutting my hair off. The engines driving my process were two-fold. Here's part 1:

I went to a movie two weeks ago. I saw some women with very very short hair. I felt a pang of longing. I felt stuck behind my shoulder-length red hair. I felt hidden and weighed down.

The seed of the idea, planted in my mind, sprouted.

Here's part 2:
I should mention that four years ago, when I shaved my head, it was a week after my third miscarriage. I had one living child to show for my four pregnancies. My husband and I had seen our fourth fetus' beating heart on ultrasound just ten days before. When we went back to the doctor to look again, that heart had stilled. There was something intuitive about grief-inspired shearing, and I took to it the second my husband left for a weekend visit to his family, the one I was supposed to go on had I not been so anti-social and grief-bound.

Currently, there is no obvious source of driving grief in my life. My family members are healthy, for the most part, and contented. But I've found myself gravitating to the silence of being alone in my house, when the girls and Mark are off at the library or kids playplace at the mall. In the silence, I am aware of this ache inside me, comprised of longing. Longing for God. Longing for justice in my neighborhood. Longing and frustration that what I can do to help the single mom I know who threw her back out last week is not enough, does not even scratch the surface of her need. The snow is piling up in her driveway, just like ours, and even though I shoveled part of her driveway Sunday night, more has fallen in that clearing--6-10 inches more. And my husband and I are now barely able to keep up with our own snow.

I feel longing for the gospel of Christ to be experienced as relief and good news in the lives of people around me, the way citizens feel when they hear a catastrophic war has finally ended. That means people who couldn't walk walk. People who couldn't see, see. Depressed people rejoice. Acts of kindness abound.

Parts 1 and 2 merged sometime while I was laying on the floor crying and praying in an empty house this week. In retrospect, the merge makes sense, the hair-shearing being an acceptable form of catharsis I could provide myself, while stuck inside watching the falling snow, too sore to shovel my neighbor's driveway.

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