It’s a new experience for me, stroking the hair of a woman who is not my wife.
I promise I won’t make a habit of it. Still, it is a new experience I will not soon forget.
I didn’t intend to do it. The young lady came into the rehearsal hall wearing a cap, which wasn’t surprising considering the plunging outside temperatures. But, just moments later, I was confused to see the warm stocking cap replaced by a baseball cap.
“It’s growing back, Paul!” came the reassuring statement from my friend. She doffed the cap and rubbed the inch-long growth on top of her head, which had been covered with a full-length crop of hair the last time I played music with her.
Bending her head down toward me, with the obvious intent that I should feel the new hair, she moved her own hand aside to allow mine to run through the short blond growth.
“That’s so soft!” I exclaimed in surprise. I suppose I expected it to feel like my chin did after a few weeks of not shaving, but it felt nothing like that at all. Like the softness of a baby duck or bunny, it was.
I had my arm around her shoulder and held her in a hug for a few seconds, holding back tears that would have come if I had spoken. Somehow, the new hair is a sign of better things to come. She has been through such horror, and yet she is hopeful.
Later that evening, tears came again as I sat, my mind wandering. How very much is lost when these bodies are ravaged by disease. Personal dignity, self-dependence, uninterrupted sleep, absence of pain — all these and more are gone, never to return, it would seem. And, then the final insult, the loss of one’s beautiful hair, her crowning glory.
The physical pain, the overwhelming nausea, the sense — no, the certainty — that the end of life is imminent — all of these (one would think) add up to the complete absence of hope.
Hope is ours. At times, we lose sight of it. Often, the realities of the physical crowd out the confidence in a God who wants only what’s best for His children. But, like Samwise Gamgee (Mr. Tolkien’s steadfast gardener), we remember — sooner or later — that where there’s life, there’s hope.
And, hope grows. Soft. And, sometimes slow.
Here’s the thing: I want to shout “Glory!” and rise above the clouds when I hear the trumpet call in the morning. Now, that’s hope!
But, on the normal days of our journey through this world, most mornings are more recalling to mind and renewing hope, that it is of the Lord’s mercies we are not utterly consumed. (Lamentations 3: 21–23)
But, I want the trumpet call. I’m not alone, am I?
A trumpet call is exciting, almost electrifying. It makes us sit up and notice. Brash. Loud. Awe-inspiring.
The reminder in the dark just before dawn is not like the trumpet call at all. Note to self: Get up and get dressed. God is faithful. That is all.
So, we keep going. Scarred. Damaged. Beaten up.
Because hope grows.
Day by day, hope grows.
Because He is faithful.
And we got out of bed this morning.
Dum spiro, spero.
(Latin motto ~ paraphrase from Cicero’s writings, meaning “While I breathe, I hope.”)
Great is Thy faithfulness. Great is Thy faithfulness.
Morning by morning, new mercies I see.
All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.
(from Great is Thy Faithfulness ~ Thomas Obediah Chisholm)
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