Dale left our home this morning to go to a hair salon. She enjoys having her hair done and looks forward to her scheduled appointment. Before she left home, I did not tell her that I planned to have my hair cut after I dropped our dog, Molly, off at daycare.
Molly goes to day care on Tuesdays and Fridays and comes home tired from her day at play with other dogs. Don’t you love dog’s names today? Some of the dogs that Molly plays with are Fruity, Mac, Ellie-Rose, Spryte, Jerome, and Maddie. Sometimes I dislike leaving Molly at Peace and Paws because I miss her being home with me. She follows me when we are home alone and goes wherever I go except in the cellar. I think she dislikes the sounds of my power tools. If I am at my desk as I am now, she lies in the knee hole. If I go to my truck, she goes off for a ride with me. Yet, I know Molly does not get enough exercise when she just hangs out with me, so it is right that she goes for a time of running and playing with her friends.
Dale takes Molly for long walks when she is home. Molly and Dale will walk two to three miles together, and, truthfully, it is good for both of them. Dale loves to walk, and I am now more limited in my walking; Molly loves to walk and to sniff and check out all the smells of horses, cows, deer and other dogs that have been there before her, or that she sees on her way.
So, I dropped Molly off at day care and left for Concord to get my haircut. Unlike Dale, I positively hate getting a haircut. It goes back to my childhood and to a cruel barber in our neighborhood. As a pastor, I know I should not hate anyone but as a child I detested (Is that a better word?) Chet the barber.
My brother Billy would go to the barber shop with me, and he liked Chet because Chet would give me such a bad time. “Hold your head still. Look down. Now look up. Stop rubbing your nose that hair on it won’t itch you. Look at your ears. Look how far they stick out. Maybe I will go out back of my shop,” (there was a curtained door), “and I will get my hammer and some tacks and pin your ears to your head.” My older brother sat their smiling as I was humiliated and fearful of that horrible barber. He probably went back to the ancient days when barbers used to bleed you as a part of a cure. And believe me over the years there have been barbers who shed some of my blood around my ears. No, ever since Chet, I have dreaded having a haircut.
Thank God for mothers, for kind thoughtful mothers. My mom knew how it bothered me that my ears stuck out, so she made an elastic head band for me to wear at night. And it worked. Take a look at my ears. See, they do not stick out anymore. But wait a minute, wait a minute….
I have a wonderful memory of things that have happened to me from the time I was four years old. My oldest brother, Milton, is astounded at my childhood memories, memories he does not have. Maybe I have those memories because my ears stuck out. When my aunts or uncles were at our house, or I worked with my mother cleaning or picking up a room or making beds with fresh sheets, I listened to her stories. At Thanksgiving gatherings after dinner when my mother and her sisters began to talk of Christmas plans, I listened ever so carefully to what they were saying. Maybe I can say to God thank you for my ears that once upon a time stuck out and gave me good hearing. But I still dislike intensely Chet, the barber. May he rest in peace wherever he is today.
In the Bible, Samson didn’t like barbers either, and we know what happened to him when Delilah cut his hair. How my father could make that story of Samson live when he told it to my brothers and sisters and me. We learned how Samson had vowed to always love God, and one of his promises as a Nazarite was that he would not cut his hair. Now the story makes you think that his hair gave him his strength, and when Delilah cut his hair, he lost his great strength. That is not true. He lost his strength because he forgot his vows and his love for God. God gave him his strength just as God can give us strength, but we have to love and honor Him and treat our neighbors with love.
How my dad would tell that story. When he lost his strength because he lost God in his life, Samson was mocked, taunted, and made fun of by those who were his enemies. They blinded him so he could no longer see, and he found God in his blindness. God grew stronger and stronger in him until one day when his enemies bound him to two great pillars of their hall, Samson put his arms around those pillars and lifted his voice to God. Miraculously, the pillars cracked and moved and began to tumble causing the ceiling to crumble. As Samson’s godless enemies tried to flee, they were crushed along with Samson as the great building fell to ruin.
What strength we have when we hold God close. How we can accomplish amazing things when we love and serve God. There is a power that comes to us when we love God and love our neighbors, when we are faithful to our beliefs. It may not be a physical strength like Samson’s; it may just be the strength to live our lives loving God and holding God’s teachings close as we face life with its challenges and, yes, even its sorrows.
Dale will be home soon. I will tell her how nice her hair looks, (even if I have to exaggerate) for she told me she before she left that when she came home, she would treat me to lunch. I’m sure she will notice that my hair is cut for she usually has to tell me it is time to do so. Just think, the topic of this walk came about because we both had haircuts. And by the way, the barber I go to here in Concord, New Hampshire, is a very nice woman who makes me remember that all the people who cut hair are not like Chet or Delilah.
Perhaps you would like to pick up your Bible and reread the story of Samson. It is found in the Book of Judges, Chapter 16. My dad did not tell us about the sinful profession of Delilah. That story came later as we matured.
“And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”