By third period I knew I had to do something. I was getting stares and comments all morning.
I wrote on the board that I was a long-term sub and that Mr. G would return in April. I sent out an email to staff with my picture, explaining to the other teachers and administrators that the teacher in room 25 belonged here and that the district office said that I did not need a new id card.
I’ve shaved my beard.
After over 32 years I have a naked chin.
And it feels weird. Heck, even my dog stared at me for a bit.
I have taken it off to provide myself a constant reminder of who I am, and what is the season.
I am a Christ-follower. It is Lent.
What a reminder it has been.
I woke up and I instantly felt the difference. I remembered. I prayed.
“Thank You, Lord. Thank you for Your steadfast love. Thank You for getting me through this year and helping me to become someone who loves You even more than the year before...”
Before my shower I looked in the mirror at the chin I haven’t seen in over three decades. The skin is a little red, unused to a razor.
I ran the hot water...
“Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, give me this day...”
I washed my face with hot water and slowly lathered up.
It was trickier than I remembered. Of course the beard of a man pushing fifty is much tougher than the beard of a 17 year old, so it is a tougher job.
“...forgive me my sins, as I forgive...”
The razor slides through the foam, scraping away the bristles that have grown through the night. Like blemishes, like sins, scraped away, inevitably they will return, but I will keep scraping...
Why did He do it? Why would the creator of all things let men grab him, drag him before a mortal for judgment for crimes He did not commit, and permit them to spit in his face?!
“lead me not into temptation... O mighty Lord, help me to see clearly any temptations I am to weak to overcome and help me to turn before I cause you sorrow...”
I washed the film of unused foam from my face. Ran the razor once more over spots that were not quite clean enough.
I used aftershave for the first time since the 70s. This new stuff is a lot different than the Old Spice I remember.
And all day long I kept touching my chin, rubbing my cheeks... and praying.
“Lord, You were stripped of so much for my sake, for our sake... thank You. Keep me mindful of this season. Give me wisdom to follow You better...”
All day long students and colleagues made remarks about my changed appearance. I cracked jokes with them, and inwardly prayed.
“...Lord, provide for me today, by the time I fall asleep, a verse that I may meditate upon for the next 40 days...”
This season, this prelude to the celebration of our risen Lord, is part of the cycle of my life. I want to embrace what is hideous, what is ugly, the torture and death of the almighty God, and taste that bitter story, swallow that meal purchased at such a great cost, and in consuming it make it a part of myself, of who I am.
Tonight I will watch The Passion of the Christ, and it will hurt. Tonight I will take communion and it will be a token of my admission guilt, and my salvation.
I have invited my children to come with me. It is their decision.
If they do come I will answer their questions, helping them to assimilate this awful truth: the Lord God, maker of all things, is so much the essence of love that He wished to share it with other creatures and created us. We rejected Him, and He made Himself mortal to show us how a man might live, truly live, and then He permitted us to lay hands upon Him, to beat Him and to puncture His body, and to nail Him to a piece of wood.
It’s Fat Tuesday. But the world is starving. We feast on pleasures and foods and intoxicants because we have been cut off from the source of life. It’s Fat Tuesday because we want to fool ourselves into believing that we can fill our own bellies. But we are all truly starving.
I want to eat and drink from the infinite.
Come Lord Jesus...