Today marks the end of having a shaved head.
If you have been keeping up with the story, you will know that I shaved my head on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Christian season of Lent, as both response to the stories of cancer swirling around my community and challenge to myself to reset my focus and priorities for the resources I have.
It was a swirling pot of mixed up reasons, but in essence, I was stirred by the stories of cancer; I wanted to respond but have limited resources, so had to give something up. I chose to give up my hair - not simply to stop spending money on the crazy colours and cuts for which I am well known to free up the money, but to give it up. Shave it off. Hair is symbolically linked with cancer stories, as the harsher treatments so often lead to the losing of it for those living with the illness. Shaving my head in the season of Lent, a season of giving up, simplifying our living in order to make a contribution that will help others to simply live, made the shaved head in the mirror a call to prayer.
Read back through my blog - look for lenten reset titled posts, or 'humanity' and 'lent' tags - for what it did to me. Some days it was horrible. It turned me inside out, combined with other stories I was living to compound the impact of each challenge. It inspired my congregation with my courage. It strengthened my connections with them and with folk in my wider community as I stood, boldly, courageously, humbly, in solidarity with them and their stories.
It has changed me - in ways I can't really articulate. I have reset my priorities. I have not quite decided what long term impact it will have on my decisions relating to my hair colour and style, but for now, I am still not colouring or cutting my hair. I'm enjoying simple.
Back to today, two things marked the end of the story of my shaved head.
1. I put product in it, giving it some style - I finally see it as not shaved or regrowing, but my hair again.
2. I made my donation to the Cancer Council, joining my contribution of money not spent on hair cuts and colours in recent months (and the $10 from the lady in the hairdresser the day I shaved my head) with the donations of those from our community around Belair who gathered for The Biggest Morning Tea at Helen's house.
To all those who have responded positively, gone out of your way to share messages of affirmation and encouragement: thank you. It has been a difficult season, made bearable by your presence alongside me.
To all those whose stories inspired my actions - thank you. Thank you for your courage, nothing compared to what it took to shave hair off that would soon grow back. Thank you for your honest and open sharing of your stories, your pain, anger, frustration, your hope, love of life, faith and trust in God.
May the stories we share be nurtured in the telling and their hearing, and may the sharing of stories strengthen our communities. We are only fully human together.