The whitening began shortly after the little woman arrived in all her glory. There it was, jutting out of the brown strands, its line bent crooked in all its glory. Its tip stood straight up, pointing heavenward. A steeple on the crown of my head.
My first white hair of hundreds over the last seven years.
When folks started noticing them, they remarked, and those remarks ranged from empathy to surprise to ribbing. After all, I was starting to go gray at the ripe old age of twenty-five.
Folks then started asking me why I wasn’t covering up those springy white hairs that curl up in our reliable north Texas humidity. Why wasn’t I dashing off to the salon, so my stylist could blot out all that white? You’re too young to be going gray, aren’t you? Don’t you want to fight age?
The white multiplies.
If you happen to be taller than I am or to walk by when I am sitting down, you’ll see them there, intertwined with the brown. I rather like them. My tenderness toward them has increased since that first one I saw, but not because I have resigned myself to the white. I simply know what to do with them now to help them lay smooth alongside with the brown. The texture bothered me infinitely more than the color, and now that that’s resolved, I am entirely content.
Aging doesn’t bother me. It never has. In fact, I rather welcome it.
I want to be old someday. I want to be able to look back over seventy years of living and laugh and cry and rejoice and grieve at what took place. I want to look across the kitchen table at my husband and see the lines of provision, service, and joy in his countenance. And I want him to see the same in mine. I want to grow old, and I want to look old when I am old.
Our bodies aren’t meant to last forever. They are supposed to slow, to loosen, to weaken. We are supposed to, at some point, not be able to do what we once did. We are meant to fray at the edges. We are meant to come apart.
Originally, of course, we weren’t. Originally, we were meant to live forever in these bodies of ours. They were perfect and glorious and wholly pure, but they’re not anymore, so our imperfect, common, impure bodies fall to pieces.
And I think that falling to pieces is grace.
I think that falling to pieces is grace, because it’s the one last physical manifestation of our utter poverty before God. It’s the one last cry of our beings that we are not enough, that we are not as grand as we think we are, that we are frail, that we are shabby and weatherworn.
There is a deep, abiding beauty in being honest about how shabby we really are. It opens us up to Him Who sees our shabbiness and thinks us altogether lovely. He sees the worn places, the thin marks, the creases, and the spots, the crooks and the awkwardness, and He just wants us. And then He takes all that shabbiness and somehow He makes us into something glorious.
So I let the white multiply unhindered. And even if I didn’t, even if I did cover it up with color, the white would still be there. Roots reveal truth.
My roots are whitening, and I rejoice that I am growing older, because it means I am one day closer to getting Where I am going.
And Home really is the best place of all.
This piece is the result of practicing the spiritual discipline of meditation. If you are interested in learning more about how to meditate, I encourage you to read Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster. I am on a year-long journey through the spiritual disciplines and hope to share insights as they come.
Also, I have no issue with anyone dyeing their hair. It’s just where I’ve landed about my own head of hair and my own body. I don’t think dyeing your hair is inherently wrong. I think you’re free to do what you want with your hair, and I don’t think poorly of anyone who does dye their hair. So please don’t misconstrue this piece as me judging anyone for dyeing their hair. Quite literally, this piece is only about my hair.