“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” – 1 Peter 2:9
Many days I walk onward not knowing the absolution of what is to come any more than where the next raindrop will fall. Many seek answers to questions they cannot. Yet, as we may, we must remain steadfast and true, forsaking all the distractions that pull us away from our course.
Today, as I sat in Sain’s barber shop watching as my son received a much-needed hair cut, I gently picked out a song on the mandolin they keep hanging on the wall for just such an occasion. “Leaning On the Everlasting Arms” was somehow fitting for the day. Outside, men shuffled in and out of the shop from the chilly rain, each shaking off the weather as they entered. Across from me four barbers were busy working, a sight not often seen in many places I’ve been. Many barbershops barely have one active chair, let alone two, so the feeling of being alive was a welcomed sight. Not long after the first few stanzas of “Leaning”, another good old standby began to work its way from within, “I”’ll Fly Away” came drifting softly from within. From the distant corner, some talk show was in progress on the large screen TV that occupied the space. Most gave it no attention as voices from the chairs both those waiting and those in the progress of getting their trims conversed.
The memories of Max’s barber shop came back. The little building out behind his house where he cut hair on Thursday nights. Many from the area of Bear Creek would stop by for their $5 haircuts. There were many stories shared and news passed on in that little place. Seldom would you enter without learning something of either the neighborhood or the history of that neck of the woods. Max eventually got a TV with satellite hooked up which most of the time was on but without the sound turned up; talk was much more important. Then there was Reid’s shop, down in Siler City, where Dennis and Ried cut hair, another duo, where most of the time it was just Dennis. It was a step up from Max’s place, but not by far. There were no fancy TVs hanging on the wall, no mandolin’s to pick, but again, there was often intense conversations that would both enlighten and inspire. In all of these places, there were the same familiar smells of the old-timey barber shop. In each of these, the hot lather would follow the cut, the welcome end to the buzzing and clipping all so close to the ears. Hot, warm lather soothing the skin, to be scraped away with the fine edge of the straight razor. The cleanliness that followed was like a breath of fresh air; akin to new ground being planted, waiting for the seed.
As the sounds and smells around me blended together, I momentarily closed my eyes and watched the notes drift across the span of time, thinking of all the places a mandolin and I have met. This was another first, but for my time, it was nothing more than something to keep me occupied while I waited. I opened my eyes in time to see one barber motioning for me to take my turn in the chair, but I shook my head “no” since I had just been there the week before. The next customer looked to me for approval as I nodded, keeping time to the strings that continued to move beneath the pick, the one the lead barber had offered me to borrow. It was comforting to see the honor system was alive and well here too, another confirmation.
Before I knew it, my son was up, shaking off the loose hairs, looking much better than before. Somehow he had aged before my eyes. That shaggy scruff was gone and a sharp looking young man stood before me. Another song moved into my head, but there was no time now. I stood to pay and thanked the barber for the use of his pick. He, in turn, thanked me for the music and asked for us to return again.
As we walked from the barber shop back out into the drizzle the strains of “Blessed Assurance”, returned and I couldn’t help think how blessed I truly was.
There are days where we cannot help ourselves to wonder if all that we do is enough. Have we offered hope to those who seek affirmation from beyond their own front doors? Have we provided the path to salvation that many need, yet we wander in our own shadows, following the winds of change as they blow us from our destination, our goals, our calling.
Today, so many places that were in the past came calling again and we met, together in one place and walked out welcome to be one with Him. Once again called out of the dark into the light, I was once more reassured of that path, yes, the one less traveled.
It was a good day.