To wash my hair or not. That was the question. I had already taken my morning shower but my hair was so frizzy and wavy and curly and the big event was just a couple of hours away. Humidity, whether it be in Portland, Oregon, or in Irvington, Illinois, is a serious impediment to my well-being.
Last minute decision: I would wash my hair in the little VRBO bathroom sink and not take a second shower. I put my head under the small faucet, more uncomfortable than I had imagined it would be. Through the shampooing process and then the conditioner and rinse, I turned my bowed head back and forth, back and forth so many times. So many times that by the time I raised my head to the towel, I felt sick. Motion sickness from washing my hair!
I had to lie down and told the kids I needed a little time. They got it. (They told me that they experienced motion sickness while dining by the water on a Greek isle during their honeymoon. Hmm. Something not quite comparable in this comparison.)
After I recovered and we went to Erika’s ordination, which was so sweet and so amazing, I forgot about my hair and my motion sickness, until the next day on our flight home, it became a metaphor for much of what I think many of us are experiencing.
I thought of the turmoil our country is enmeshed in: a president way in over his head; too many mentally disturbed with caches of firearms; the NRA, pharmaceutical companies and countless lobbies that are ruling over our Congress; and an emasculated EPA. Racist fear and anger all over the land, terrorism, and the suffering American Indians I met in South Dakota, now seen through my rear-view mirror. Add all of this to my personal issues, your personal problems and our heads are swimming. We are in a state of everyday nauseousness.
But on that Sunday in Portland, my hair dried and the metaphor had not yet come to my thinking. I recovered from my motion sickness and had one of the most meaningful experiences of my life—Erika’s ordination into the ministry.
We aren’t a family of daily Bible readers. No one else in the Hake or Spaet line was a preacher. Where did this come from? I have no answer.
But I know that we need young leaders such as Erika–in the ministry, in our government, in our classrooms, in the media, everywhere. That day at the Salt and Light Church gave me hope. When I was washing my hair under that too-small faucet, I didn’t have a focal point. I had temporarily lost it and became momentarily ill. Being in church brought a focus back to me.
At times our heads may feel stuck under a too-small rush of water, but we can recover with the help of young people, with the help of hope for better times ahead. The sermon of the day was about saying “Yes” to God, no matter how discouraged we feel. So that is my hope for myself and for you, that we always find ways to recover and move on, ways to help ourselves and our country. Ways to keep our focus on what is just and good.