Nearly four years ago I shaved my head in support of a friend with cancer.
Here is what it was before, Here is what it was after:
The moment I decided to do this was one of those stunning moments of clarity.
I had been reading the book Leadership & Self Deception and the primary thing I was getting from that book was this: that if I have a thought of doing good for someone that I either do it or immediately push it away.
If I push it away my inner voice makes all sorts of justifications and condemnations in fact of why this or that isn’t possible, but not because of me, but because of the person I would do good to. The authors of this book call this living in a box (a box we put ourselves into by our choices, a box by which the world is distorted by our own lack of courage).
On the Monday I had seen my friend with cancer and her hair was just beginning to fall out. I had assured her, “You will look just as beautiful without your hair.” I truly meant this and yet in the twenty-four hours following my glib statement I couldn’t shake how easy that had been to say when I still had my long hair.
As I look back over the years of my life there have been very few clear moments as that one when I knew, I just knew, that I was going to shave my head. It was a clarity of conviction and action that took on a life of its own, I simply became a servant to it.
I talked with my daughter and soon to be son-in-law for their wedding was a mere 9 weeks away. When Manuel heard what I wanted to do he asserted, “This is good Mum, you must do this.” And Alexis was all for it as well (their hearts continue to bless me and astound me to this day!).
I wish I still had the recording of my friend’s message on my phone after she had seen my photo on Facebook.
So, what did I come away with? So many things.
For one, I will never forget the date I shaved my head. It was May 5th. For me who has to write down my grandchildren’s birth dates, who has to stop and think about what month and what year most everything happened, somehow this day is seared into my heart and mind.
It became apparent that there was a deep prophetic work in process and I, in service to that, kept my head bald for eight weeks. Every morning in the shower instead of washing my hair I shaved my head. And everywhere I went the responses of people amazed me.
Strangers hugged me and would begin crying. Bald men in cars would yell out how much they loved my hair, giving me a thumbs up as they drove past. People I rarely talked to stopped and shared and cried and thanked me over and over again.
It was astounding and completely unexpected. And the only conclusion I came to is that people, all of us, are just waiting and hungry for something to move us, as though we are desperate for profound acts in service of each other.
Somehow my bald head, and of course all it meant, touched a part of people’s souls that is rarely touched. This overwhelming response carried on week after week.
Since that day I’ve done many brave things and yet they don’t feel brave to me. They feel normal.
Since that day nothing has been scary. Nothing.
Because of that day I now know that my body, my hair, this physical frame is such a tiny part of who I am. It is as though the lopsided concern with outward beauty has faded behind the true beauty of a soul that risks to do courageous things.
I may never know the full impact this had on me, my friend, and those around me. It somehow sealed all that is good and kind and right in the world.