Friday, February 22, 2008

Quiet morning in a barbershop

It was a quiet mid morning, the last dying gasp of an Oklahoma Winter was on the air.
“You selling something?” the question came from a man ensconced behind a huge box of donuts moving my way down the shaded portico of a strip mall.
“Looking for sponsors for a theatre company actually,” I tried desperately not to drop my notebook as I reached for a business card, it worked.
Donut Guy smiled, “You know who likes that stuff? This guy, Travis here in the barbershop, talk to him.”

Travis, it turns out is in his late twenties, he handles a straight razor with the ease of a pro and is finishing a haircut on a guy about my age. The man’s wife sits patiently, with a look of satisfaction with the haircut holding their, I guess, one year old son.

I tell Travis why I’m there and drop a card on his counter and sit to wait.

The man in the barber chair requests a trim for his young son, and the boy is placed lovingly in his lap by the mother. I notice “Dad” does not wear a ring , but “Mom” does, fiancé? I wonder. The boy is a thing of beauty, sitting quietly with his large blue eyes taking it all in. He is quietly sucking a pacifier, which, once removed, reveals a beautiful serene smile.

The barber weighs his options, first approaching with the clippers he abandons these for a small pair of shears and goes neatly to work shaping the baby soft tufts above the youngsters ears, trimming up the back, wisely leaving the front in its natural state. He moves quickly, but there is no rush. He is quiet and confident and the infant senses no need for alarm.

In less than five minutes the entire procedure is complete and Dad is happy with the results, the soft ding of a cash register, the rustle of currency changing hands, “Have a nice trip,” says Travis.

“Thanks,” says Dad and they are gone.

I am left in quiet gratitude for having shared such a beautiful moment. I wonder if Mom will remember the man who quietly commented on her son’s ease of mind. I have just witnessed the boy’s first haircut, a moment of his life, unique in the history of the world. It makes me feel connected.

He buys a small ad from me, Travis, this quiet, confident young man, and we spend a moment idly chatting about what best to fill that space in my program. I wonder if he felt it, the awe, at having been witness to such an event?

These moments seem far too rare in my busy life. It is as if all the other transactions of the day are artificial, this one small moment ringing true, real life is so illusory. Even with my own children moments of intimacy seem to come so rarely and fly by before they are noticed. This is the kind of thing that twenty-twenty hind sight is good for. The memories.

It is sad to say but I am not sure I was there for my own sons first haircuts. Of course, this is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things but I think I will remember this quiet boy for some time to come, his curious eyes following the barber’s shears, his tiny shoulders shrugging up against the cold steel of the scissor blades. His questioning glance to Mom who is remarkably calm and the quiet acceptance of this state as normal, no struggle, no fight, just life.

I wish I were as still in my Father’s lap when he brings out the shears. When He gets the notion that my unruly locks could use a little TLC. But I am no Baby, I go kicking and screaming into the “sprucing up” of life, and frequently earn nicked ears in the process. Even the pain, and the bleeding are usually not enough to remind me that it is my fault I am hurt by God’s gentle pruning.

God help me to be still in the trimmings of life. Help me to see that you are not here to hurt me in your corrections. Help me to see your quiet smile, feel your confidence, let you do what needs doing, remove the things that keep others focused on the unruly appearance of my too long ignored shagginess, and help them see the real me. The me you are undyingly trying to reveal, even if it kills me. Let me cooperate when next you come to take away some prop, that, by the way, you placed there to keep me from falling on my face, that I have become attached to and now believe it is mine to own. Let me gently smile, as the boy with the pacifier, and accept the better thing you always have to put in its place with quiet gratitude.

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