Epiphanies come in unexpected places. My most recent one came at the Hair Cuttery.
The place was abuzz in the mid-afternoon, a hive of sounds and scents enough to block normal perception. Sally, my loquacious operator, wrapped the buzz close around me.
As she clipped and chatted, I glanced into the mirror, past my shoulder toward the back row of washstands. An old, and obviously fragile, woman was having her hair washed. But the simple act of leaning back, eyes closed, had unsettled her. The stylist was motioning to an old man to come from the front of the store.
He was a picture in crumpled greys. Age and exhaustion seemed to have robbed him of the crispness people don before they venture out. But his eyes were sharp and his attention focused on the small plea rising from his wife.
He simply took her hand and stood silent while the operator completed her task. He was an icon of both vulnerability and strength; she of fragility and trust. But together, in that handclasp, they were holy and eternal.
I realized that I had seen, reflected in that mirror, another Incarnation. Their moment was a prayer made visible. It was the love of God made flesh.
On my way out of the shop, I passed him, now reseated in the waiting area. I told him how moved I was by his gentle gesture and its expression of his devotion. He smiled and said, “Would you believe I just met her last week?”
I paused a moment before he continued, chuckling, “No, I have loved her like that for sixty-four years.”
Driving home, I felt my heart reach for God.
“Stay beside me like that in my weaknesses, even in my unfounded fears. Just a hand to hold is all I ask. Just your steady presence within reach is all I need.”