I see them everywhere these days — heads shorn.
The fluorescent lights in the school hallway reflect off every third teen-age boy. A few kept a strip down the middle, mohawk-style. But many left nothing but a polished shine.
Theirs is a show of solidarity for a friend who lost his hair from chemotherapy treatments. In my town, a whole slew of them — age 15, 16, and 17 — are saying, “Brother, you don’t have to do this alone. We’re walking this road with you, in the only way we know how.”
And when you see what they’ve done, you can’t argue the fact that bald is, indeed, beautiful. Love trumps fashion.
In the Bible, the prophet Isaiah says something about how, with God, we can trade in the bad stuff in our lives — the ashes — for something beautiful — a crown. Isaiah calls it a “crown of beauty.”
I see “crowns of beauty” at school, at the grocery store, at the gas station. And then, behind closed doors, I see another polished crown reflecting the overhead lights. For, you see, cancer is here, on the family farm.
If you lived here, you’d see him — bald-headed and driving the John Deere combine through the cornfield. That’s my father-in-law, stoic and without complaint. Rather than watch his hair fall out gradually in clumps, he matter-of-factly asked the nurse to shave it.
Anna, my four-year-old, whispered to me of her Grandpa: “Bop looks so cute with that bald head.”
And now, watching him in the fields on the farmland we share, I look out my window and wonder at his strength: He works so hard, Lord, even when his body has endured so much: leukemia, so many rounds of chemo, long and repeated hospital stays. Thank you, Father, for giving him enough strength for today.
In the Bible, Samson lost his physical strength when his hair was cut. But my father-in-law? Shaved, he seems stronger somehow. Especially when he’s in the field, working alongside his son, who is my husband.
In the cornfield that is my backyard, the two farmers — father and son — will work like barbers this week, shearing the fields. They will leave only stubble. And from my kitchen window, I will watch.
Fresh cuts, fresh starts … ***
When they are done here, they will leave the ground bare, making room for something new to sprout later. Even in the fall, hope springs eternal.
*** Inspired by Ann Voskamp, at Holy Experience.