A few months ago my children and I observed how my dozen or so strands of gray hair had remained steady in number since their first appearance a few years back.
A couple of weeks ago I noticed with dismay that the number had increased twofold, the fierce pale strands fighting for their place amongst the mass of deep brown. A difficult season of parenting had taken place between those two surveys of my head and I knew without a doubt that out of the stress and straining of those days the silver had sprung its roots.
My 12-year-old encourages me to embrace the tale-tell signs of aging. She quotes a passage from Proverbs and reminds me that it’s a sign of a righteous life, that it is my “crown of splendor”. If I look from the right angle, I can see the new gray stands as an affirmation that I’m not over-exaggerating that short but stormy season, it’s a marking post that I faced something truly difficult and I’ve arrived on the other side. I simply didn’t know my crown of splendor would be arriving at the age of 37.
What if the same process that produced these silver strands also worked in reverse?
For example, today was the opposite of my days a few months back. The April sun was warm, while the shade allowed a playful caress of wind. Instead of fighting, each of my kids engaged in a creative activity, entirely unprompted by me.
My six-year-old sat before me in her red wagon, first drawing a map of an imaginary land and then typing a story of giants and dragons. Beside me sat my ten-year-old (who has spent much of the last year hating any act of school-ish activity) writing chapter five of a story. The twelve-year-old worked on a “creaturepedia” for her own story and the oldest worked on a script for a project that she’s begun with friends. This is how the day began and this is how the day continued for hours and I sat near them all, reading a book and saying a quiet thanks to the Lord.
What if, with the same power that conjured those gray follicles into my hair like wild kudzu, a day like this could just as magically change a few of them back to the rich brown of youth and hope? This too, would be a kind of affirmation, that each day may brings its own mercies, its own renewal.