I knew I was getting older the last time I went to Forever21 and the sales associate asked me if I was lost and then called me ‘ma’am’. I quickly darted out of the store, pretending like I had wandered in by mistake.
Then, I heard on K-Love that women who dye their hair blond look older. I immediately quit dying my hair. I decided to find out what my natural color was, since no one really knows. That was about six months ago. I’ve been really obnoxious about it too. “I’m going natural,” I keep telling people. “I’m going to quit spending so much money on my vain attempt at looking young and give to the poor.”
So, I’ve been working the ombre style until Michael changed the 3 out of 4 burnt-out light bulbs in our bathroom. I was so thankful until I looked in the mirror and noticed millions of white hair attached to MY HEAD!!!! Ok, not millions. But definitely more than two, which might as well be millions. PLUS, less than 12 hours later, Michael and I were driving down the road in the daylight and I made the egregious mistake of looking at myself in the mirror…..and I noticed a wrinkle where I’ve been smiling too much.
1. had a nervous breakdown.
2. apologized to the poor.
3. scheduled a hair appointment.
4. stopped smiling. Ever.
Wrinkles and grey hair? What in the youthful world is happening to me???
Am I growing up? So much evidence suggests ‘no’! In my profession, I am still a teeny tiny infant. As a mother, I have little bitty children. I’m not yet responsible for a turkey at Thanksgiving. I still have slumber parties with my friends. I even know how to hashtag….
But. I guess I have a ‘profession’. I am a mother. I do make the dressing for Thanksgiving, and the world has to be realigned and meticulously organized and prepared for a slumber party to actually happen.
Maybe I am growing up?
We have had the most gloriously spectacular autumn here in North Carolina. The trees have been the most brilliant shades of crimson, gold, and fire orange that I ever remember seeing. My super smart science friend says it’s because we had a relatively dry September and some frosted but not frozen mornings. I’ve nearly run off the road staring at/Instagramming them with my (hip) (smart) (i)Phone….because I’m young like that. Michael reminded me as I was admiring them on a family outing, that the the chlorophyl has been keeping them green since spring, and that just now their true colors are beginning to show. That as they come into autumn, they are really coming into their fullness, into the pinnacle of their magnificence, into the truth of what they were created to be.
And then I remembered my grandmother talking about the autumn of her life. She shared about what a full and beautiful season it was. And then she shared about how she knew it was slipping away and how she was easing into the winter season. She talked about the peace she had as she braced for the winter. She didn’t fear it, she embraced it.
Before the sun finally sets, the frost begins to squeeze the color from the blue of autumn’s skies and the brilliant colors of spring and summer turn from scarlet red to softer hues of gold. As age begins to wrinkle our skin and greys our hair, we look forward to living our final chapters. As we join the vast caravan that marches toward the west, we shall first behold the winter “sunrise” which brings with it tiny hints of lovely pastel shades. When winter sunrise begins to paint its dawn upon our lives, we shall not fear what lies ahead.
She was so wise.
Our culture would have us to believe that the summer of our life is to be preserved at all costs, and, by the way, at all costs is the precise and only motivation. While I am still far from shopping in the “Ladies” section at Belk (sorry, but the only way I am buying a sweater with a turkey embroidered on it is if I wear it as a joke), I am coming to the realization that there is real value in each season of life. Could it be that ever so softly, ever so slightly, my autumn is creeping upon me?
Besides the physical calamities I am enduring, I’ve noticed other changes too. Ten years ago if you had asked me to give you a 10 year plan, I would have gladly blurted out my pretty little plan tied with a pretty little bow. I have learned the value of being open to God’s plan. I have learned the value of sitting at the beautiful feet of my elders. I am learning the value of saying ‘no’ to things that don’t align with my priorities. I am learning that some things matter, and other things, simply…..don’t. I am learning that I have so much to learn. Maybe, ever so slightly, ever so gently, my true colors are beginning to show. Maybe, despite my initial repulsion, I can find beauty there. Maybe, as I come into my own, I can even embrace it….the way my Grandmother embraced her winter.
We will quietly stand and behold the majesty and wonder of a sunrise that will lead us beneath the open sky, under its glorious arch to walk among God’s creation and all His peaceful works. ….together we can share the calm that dawning brings and welcome release from relentless busyness. Between the winter sunrise and sunset, we know that Jesus will be with us.
Because the wisdom of her words, which she shared through her wrinkled lips, made her more stunning and more beautiful than any attempt at holding onto the evidence of her youth.
Wasn’t she beautiful?
Frances, easing into winter
(Quotes by Frances Pierce, from her autobiography Why Not Us?, the chapter entitled “Winter Sunrise”)
(Image of Photographic Oil Portrait by Gaye Frances Willard. For more information on photographic oils, click http://www.portraitartistnc.com/GWbrush.html)