Of course, you and I both know that life does not come with an instruction pamphlet. You can’t even go on line to pull one up. Nope – most of everything we do in life becomes a giant experiment with a million different parts. Now, it seemed that when I was younger, I had a great routine going. My hair looked the same, I was nice and neat and well dressed, as it were. However, this Covid junk, added to the whole retirement experience, has really changed what I do with my physical projection on this world. I mean, I still have very few places I need to go, and even if I were to go, say to the grocery store or to fill up the car, I have discovered no one really cares what I look like or how I dress. I hate to admit it, but I am wearing the same t-shirt – gray – that I put on Monday morning – and this is Wednesday. It doesn’t stink, it’s comfortable and again, no one cares. In fact, the only times over the last year and a half that I have actually put dress clothes on was when I was part of a mock jury, when we needed to sign our living trust documents, and at my mother-in-law’s funeral. That’s not a lot of dress-up time since March of 2020.
So I will confess that it’s kind of easy to let a lot of things slip by. Now, I’ve also lost some pretty good weight, so any dress clothes I would wear would fit very well, but again, why bother? The other thing that occurred happened almost by accident. When the full lockdown from the coronavirus happened, and we were even ordering groceries to be delivered, somehow I lost my razor. At first, it was just a stubble, and not very charming at that, but eventually, things started filling in and before you knew it, I had a fairly respectable beard.
Now, the one who has always served as my North Star in terms of grooming and such is my beloved wife. I have on a pretty regular basis asked her if I should just perhaps shave the whole thing off, and she has surprised me with a real resistance to that happening. Apparently she likes the way it looks, or it makes me look older than I really am, which makes her look far younger…
Whatever the reason, it’s hung on, and has pretty much become me. Except – remember that instruction pamphlet? The one that doesn’t exist? Well, that’s also true for the care and trimming of beards… So, I look at the world around me, to get a hint of what a beard should actually look like, and how long or short it should be. The examples that show up are the fellows from Duck Dynasty, ZZ Tops, the Taliban, or Santa. I suppose I can include Jesus in that, too, but we don’t have any photographs, and Jesus never went into the proper grooming of a beard. So I look in the mirror, and try to imagine the best length and look, and I have to tell you, it’s a real roll of the dice!
Now, about two months ago, I trimmed things up, and thought it looked pretty good. It was long enough, but not too long, and had a nice shape. I have in my drawer a handy dandy beard and moustache trimmer, which supposedly will function to make my face look pretty good. I have to tell you though – that little trimmer is a devil machine! I mean, you can’t just go in like a weed whacker to a field of wild rice – It is really possible to screw up the way things look in very short order.
No – you have to comb out the beard, and then carefully, lightly, and slowly trim out the areas that don’t seem to fit. Don’t take too much off, however, or you are done. And you really can’t see what you are doing when it comes to trimming up the neck or the sides. Actually, I can appreciate why the guys on Duck Dynasty have such unkempt beards – it’s just easier. However, no one ever said that personal grooming was easy, that’s for sure.
So, today I will again take trimmer in hand, and try to clean up the underbrush a bit. However – I still go back to my previous statement – no one really cares, I think, and so I’ll try not to spend an inordinate amount of time on something that’s just going to grow back.
So, let’s make the beard a symbol of our lives today. Maybe something entered into our lives almost as a whim – a new hobby, a new interest, or something like that. We were very interested in it at the beginning, taking good care of it, and then instead of it being a new thing, it quickly became just “something” in our lives. It moved into being a habit, and only rarely do we think and focus intentionally on it – it’s just there. But we still need to care for it, and not let it go wild. Things don’t just “accidentally” exist in our lives – they are either part of who we are, or we are perhaps a bit too comfortable to really attend to them.
Make your life something “on purpose.” Let what you do, and how you live be something that you really intend to do, instead of letting your life get away from you. Sometimes, we seem to just float through life like floating on air, with no firm footing. However, when we are able to touch ground, or touch that firm rock, we are ablet to push off from that, and with purpose move forward, making a difference with our own lives, and our place in the world.
So- trim your beard, however you interpret that to mean. Take charge, and be fully aware of what perhaps you have let take charge of you. It’s your life. You deserve the best you can live out and offer. Blessings.
Word for the day: verecund. Pronounced VER-uh-kund. It is an unassuming word, that of course comes from the Latin, verecundus, which means “shy or modest.” The word further breaks down to the root, however, or vereri, which means “to fear.” You would probably agree that most shyness in the world is rooted in fear, of being concerned or worried about doing or saying the wrong thing, and so we do nothing at all. There is of course nothing wrong with being modest, in fact it’s a virtue. It’s just when the motivation for that is the fear of being pointed out as being unique or special, that we begin to verecund in a less than favorable light.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.