You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘spiritual growth’ tag.

We try to tackle the big topics on this humble little blog: life, death, spirituality, peace, love, justice, mercy. So, in comparison, my topic today seems ludicrously flimsy and terribly vain: I am going to write about my recent decision to let my hair go gray, as it has been wanting to do, lo these many years.

I started going gray — white, really, if I’m honest — in my thirties. I’ve been dying my locks ever since. I consider being brunette part of my identity. I could never wear colored contacts, for instance. My brown eyes are also part and parcel of who I am. A good deal of this identity is wrapped up in pop culture: Brunettes are serious. They’re smart. My earliest role models were Mary Tyler Moore, Marlo Thomas on “That Girl” and Catwoman — all brunettes, all “making it after all,” on their own terms. That was my tribe!

So why change now? Why not go to my grave with my roots intact? Well, for one, my husband recently encouraged me to go natural. And if he doesn’t care, why should I care what the rest of the world thinks? Secondly, it’s a drain of time and money to continue to color my hair, and the chemicals involved are not as healthful and innocuous as one might think while watching a Clairol commercial. Third, why lie, even to myself, about what I look like? I like to think I embrace truth-telling. My white hair is a truth about myself.

But here’s the big one: I truly believe the purpose of life is in embracing the little “yesses.” After all, at the end of our lives, there is going to be a huge “yes” that we will have to embrace, like it or not. By accepting and welcoming each little “yes,” I prepare myself daily for the big “yes.”

And this is, despite being firmly entrenched in female vanity, a tough yes. I look at other women who are letting their hair go natural and I judge. It looks slovenly. Like a lack of self-care. And yes, I know that’s a horrible thing to think. I’m appalled at myself. But there it is. And this is what I will have to see in myself as my “skunk stripe” covers the crown of my head and extends, inexorably, downward. I will have to confront the worst in myself. I will have to deal with my own feelings about aging and about how women are judged and valued on their beauty and youth. I will have to see myself lacking.

And I will have to find God in all of this. I will have to grapple with a God who loves everything about me, but who created humans to love what is aesthetically pleasing. I will have to align myself with a God who expects my power to come from something bigger than a bottle of dye. I will have to say “yes,” not just once, but over and over again, every time my fingers itch to solve the problem with a box from the drugstore.

I am hoping all of this will be good for my soul. Because that’s the part of me I care about most. And it doesn’t need anything artificial in order to be beautiful, does it?

Advertisements

leopardThis video of a charity tennis match with Rafael Nadal really caught my attention. A woman in the crowd loses her child and Nadal stops the match as security helps her.

What really got to me was the part at the end, when the camera focuses on tennis great, John McEnroe. In days of yore, he would have ranted at the woman, You can’t find your kid? You have GOT to be kidding me! But it doesn’t turn out the way, and this made me wonder: can people really change?

How about this question: can a hermit flip a switch and suddenly become an extrovert? The Swiss town of Solothurn seems to think so. They recently placed an ad seeking a professional hermit with a charismatic personality willing to engage in small talk with the public.

Of course, there are many things that you can change, including your name and your appearance.

Do you know who Ilyena Vasilievna Mironoff is? She’s an actress you may have seen in such movies as The Hundred Foot Journey and The Queen. Not for nothing, but at 68 years old, she’s got the figure of a swimmer!

Do you recognize this famous face? jennifer-grey-mindy-friends She (and her original nose) starred in the movie, Dirty Dancing, but I saw her in a rerun of Friends recently, and I didn’t know who she was!

“I went into the ­operating room a ­celebrity and came out anonymous,” she told The Mirror in 2012. “It was the nose job from hell. I’ll always be this once-famous actress nobody ­recognizes because of a nose job.”

Surely, these things are malleable, but what about who-we-are at the very core? Can people change at the most basic level? Saul did, on the road to Damascus, and finding faith led him to become the Apostle, Paul.

After once calling himself an “amiable agnostic,” CS Lewis experienced God’s “compelling embrace.” Remember Matthew 19:26: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Well, if Johnny Mac has become an old softie on the tennis court, heck, maybe anyone can change!

There’s a potted plant growing in our church’s foyer. I couldn’t begin to guess what it is, as I have little knowledge of plants and even less luck growing them, but I assume it’s some sort of succulent. It is tall and spindly (much like me in high school), circuitously looping and twisting upwards and ending in a puff of leaves (not unlike the Lorax’s truffula trees) pressed hard against a window. It wants the sun. If the window were not there, where would it grow? Forever upwards, pointing its leafy face toward heat, warmth, light?

Our own spiritual journeys are a lot like that plant. They are seldom straightforward — they bend and reverse directions repeatedly. Yet no matter what occurs, we keep heading toward the light of God. Sometimes things get in the way. Our challenge is to discern which of those things are windows and which are not.

Windows are physical barriers that keep us from attaining unity with God. Some of those barriers might be time, family concerns, difficulties or differences with organized religions, or a lack of spiritual nurturing in childhood. But some barriers require a bit more poking to establish whether they are made of solid glass —or merely mirages.

If lack of time inhibits your spirituality, you may want to review your use of time: Are you putting God last, after the job, the dishes, even feeding the dog? It is quite easy to fall into the habit of associating your spiritual life with “spare” time. What’s more difficult is incorporating spirituality into the very fabric of your daily life, making it both warp and weft alongside more mundane commitments. My good friend SueBe has been marvelous in pointing out ways that I can do this — from taking time to walk a maze (or even just tracing a maze on paper with one’s finger) to prayer beads to simply stopping short of forming an opinion of someone else and turning it instead into an opportunity for reflection. My friend Alice introduced me to another one: Choose a prayer or biblical passage and read it aloud. Now repeat it, losing the last word. Continue to do this, dropping a word each time and pondering the changed meaning. Here’s a good quotation to start with, from Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.”

Take time to examine your “window.” What is holding you back from union with God? Is it prejudices based on earthly (and therefore inherently feeble) interpretations of what and who God is? Are you letting someone else tell you what your heart knows is wrong? Or are you consciously setting up a barrier to God, putting God off, telling yourself you’ll “get to it” someday?

Is your window solid or a figment of your imagination? How can you get yourself “unstuck”? Take time to ponder your spiritual journey. Wipe out your windows — or at least wipe them clean — and get on with the business of growing. It is what we were put here to do, after all.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: