One of the inconveniences of this pandemic was that I was due for a haircut right as salons were closed. I decided quickly this was a superficial, somewhat vain, concern, and I could simply wait until things reopened. As the months passed, my growing hair became a symbol of this time – our need to stay-in-place, to stay socially distanced, and to make sacrifices for the sake of the community. Eventually, as I did daily online prayers, it became a running joke that people were measuring the length of quarantine by the length of my hair.
So, when my hairdresser finally came back to work last week, I was equal parts thrilled and nervous. My hair had not grown that long since college, and I longed for the ability to look properly groomed. But I also was anxious – there is no way to stay six feet away from someone cutting your hair, and even with us both wearing masks, getting my hair cut was taking on a risk. I tentatively booked the appointment, feeling both relief and guilt.
That tension did not dissipate during the experience. My nervousness made my entire body tense. I realized half-way through the cut I was subconsciously praying for both of us – that neither of us would get sick (then, guiltily realizing I probably ought to be praying for my hairdresser daily!). As three-inches curls of hair fell to the ground, I had flashes of the Sampson story we had just read in our 90-day Bible Reading Challenge. Had this been a mistake? Was shedding all this hair a symbol of my failed ability to lead others with the example of compassion and care?
As I got back into my car though, the lightness of the weight of my hair created a lightness on my spirit too. I suddenly realized that in addition to all of the suffering and death this pandemic has brought, it has also given us an invisible weight on our shoulders – the angst of making decisions about communal versus personal behavior, the load of constant cycles of grief, and the burden of a system crumbling around us. Losing my hair was akin to losing a bit of the weight on my shoulders – remembering that despite all of the bad that has come out of this pandemic, so has a lot of good. For me, cutting my hair (done with all the safety precautions possible) was a reminder of the light in the darkness of this time. I say that not as an endorsement of getting one’s hair cut in general. I say that because we all need reminders of the light trying to shine through during this time of darkness. If you are finding you need help finding that light, I am here. If you need help finding that light, Hickory Neck Church is here. If you need help finding that light, God is surrounding you with light on every side, even if you cannot see it yet. My prayer for you is you find hints of light today to sustain you in this darkness!