|Photo Credit: dhester from morgueFile.com|
I joined a gym last week and lost 12 inches. Crazy, huh? It’s true. Well, not entirely. I did join a gym and I’m still sore from the class that I went to on Thursday. In fact, the only part of my body that does NOT hurt is my eyelashes and I’m using them to type this blog post today. Hee hee. No, seriously.
Annnnnd, I did lose 12 inches…but not at the gym. I was at the store last week checking out and the lady behind me struck up a conversation. She quietly said, “I used to have hair like that.” I stopped unpacking my cart and looked at her, with her thin gray hair peeking out from under her pink ball cap. I quickly assessed that she must have cancer and be losing her hair with her treatments.
That moment was tough for me. There I was with my waist-length hair all wrapped up in a big ole bun on top of my head. And, there she was, with whispers of hair barely touching her shoulders…not enough to gather to even make a tiny pony tail. A feeling overwhelmed me…I felt like I had so much…too much.
I asked her, “Are you going through chemo? How are you doing?” She responded, “Well, just this morning, I woke up and clumps of hair were all over my pillow. I just cried and cried and cried. Chemo is terrible.”
I wanted to find the perfect words to comfort her and take away her pain. In my attempt to make her feel a little bit better that day, I said, “I will be praying for you and I also want you to know that I’ll be donating a foot of my hair to make a wig for someone just like you.” And, with that, she smiled a smile that radiated through my body and straight to my heart. It felt good.
I had been meaning to cut my hair for weeks. I donated 11 inches back in April of 2012 and I’d grown it out again. After that chat with a stranger, I knew it was time to cut it for another donation. God was speaking to me through her.
A hair donation is free. It requires nothing more of me than the effort to cut it and send it in to Pantene Beautiful Lengths so that some brave woman without hair can feel hopeful once again. I could do that. That was certainly something that I could do.
We can give hope to others in so many ways, really, besides hair. Not everyone has 12 inches to give. I do think that God allows my hair to grow fast because He knows I’ll give it away. Might that be how it works in other areas of our life? The more we give away, the more He gives us in turn? In the Bible, it says, “Much is required from those to whom much is given.” (Luke 12:48)
I hadn’t made the time to cut my hair, so I was possibly keeping hope from someone else. I felt that way, at least. So, I took action and cut my hair.
Just this weekend at Mass, the gospel was about being the salt of the earth. “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” (Matthew 5:13) As Christians, we are called to be the salt of the earth because our very lives can enhance the lives of others.
Fr. Thomas Rosica explains it this way, “In the ancient biblical world, salt was a precious commodity. It gave flavor and zest to food; it served as an important preservative; salt also made people thirst for something more. Jesus wanted His disciples to give flavor and zest to the world through His teaching; to preserve the truth as He proclaimed it to the world; to make the world thirst for more.”
Rosica goes on to say, “The concern that ‘salt has lost its flavor’ is difficult for us to understand today, especially because of the purity of the salt we use. In the time of Jesus, salt was not purified in the way that we know but was collected from deposits left by the
as it dried. This salt was exposed to the elements and could break apart
and lose its flavor. Such salt is a very appropriate metaphor for
discipleship, which can and does lose its vigor over time if care is not taken
to keep it alive.”
How are we being the salt of the earth today? Are we holding onto hope or are we giving it away? Did I really need that extra 12 inches of hair? Not really. Is there something we have that we can give this week? Something that doesn’t even cost a dime? Our time? Love? Hope? Forgiveness? Encouragement? A simple smile?
My Aunt Edie reminded me of the words of Blessed Mother Teresa: "Peace begins with a smile. Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”
If we don’t know where to begin, we can start with the ultimate question of our lives, “God what do you think I should do?” Matthew Kelly encourages us to allow that question to permeate our inner dialogue, our prayer, and all moments of decision. If we do, we will live a life uncommon.
The beautiful news is that we can give in our own unique, special way. "God doesn't want us comparing our lives to others. He gave us a one-of-a-kind makeup, background, and skill set for a reason. He has a purpose in mind for us and wants us to use what He gives us to be a success at being ourselves - not a frustrated imitation of someone else." ~ Allia Zobel Nolan (from The Worrywart's Prayer Book)
As my bun got a little smaller (Hair bun, hair bun! Watch it peeps! Ha ha!), my heart got a little bigger.