Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I was sitting the faculty lounge having lunch. Several others around me started comparing thoughts on hair style and care. My own powers of observation are limited, so that I tend not to notice that Lois has had a haircut unless I was forewarned. But I realized quickly enough as I listened that I am as vain as anyone else about appearance.

I observed that I used to have red hair. Some were sceptical, but the picture of Lois and me when we first were engaged shows the truth.

Their scepticism is easy to understand. Here we are today.

Lois tells me that white hair is good, and I am willing to believe her. I notice the thinning, the weathering, the truth that time passes whatever we feel like inside. When we left Pennsylvania to go back to school, after about nine years of marriage, we had become a small family.

Lois, Vaughn, and I -- ready to leave Speedwell heights for Wilmore. I think I was less concerned with appearance then. A kind of carelessness that went with being 36. Now I'm not so sure. I know that I am older, and I notice.

Speedwell had been good for us. I preached 45 to 50 Sundays a year. The picture below comes from my ordination service, with John Byers sitting behind me. Time passes, and John himself is gone now.

One of the things that I notice most now is my aversion to the sun. I can't stay long in the sun under any conditions. When we last travelled abroad, I remember trying to avoid the sun often. First picture, making sure that I'm under the roof of the bicycle taxis in London.

Then hiding under a blanket while an electrician works on our wonder car in the Kalahari desert.

In a way the last picture is a metaphor for appearances. Sometimes I don't want to be seen, not just by the sun. As I get older, I become aware of both sides: wanting to be noticed, and wanting to hide away. Appearances. Alternately showing off and hiding.
The chance conversation about hairstyles and colours is an excuse to remember what we look like. The shell of physicality that encloses our selves (these "ensouled bodies") matters more than we might think. In the end, the shell crumbles and the self remains, so that the shell of John in the picture above lies now in a grave. John himself is stronger than ever; but appearances matter. He has a new body (shell), Paul tells us.
It's good to remember what we have had and been; the memories are ourselves anyway.

1 comment:

KGMom said...

Ah yes--the ravages of time.
Hair once red now white. . .etc. Actually Lois appears not to change, except for hair length.
It's good to be alive!