My Navy dress blues hang in the barber shop. It’s dark richness accented by the white piping around the collar and cuffs, one star port, another one starboard in the back. On the left sleeve the rating patch resides,it’s three red stripes underneath the crossed hammer and fire-axe over a carpenters square indicates what I did and how successful I was or was not at doing it. It hangs there on the wall as in indicator, an artifact of my history. It doesn’t fit. I know it was foolishness to even try, but I did once, several years ago. I looked like some sort of large bird caught in a snare. I felt like one too. It took longer to extricate myself than it took me to get into it.
I tried on the Dixie Cup, the traditional sailors hat. It was too big. Male pattern hair migration seems to be the culprit. Some call it hair loss, but I didn’t loose any of it. It just left my head and migrated to other parts of my body. The shoes were too tight as well. My feet have widened. Some things are just that way. Over time they don’t fit.
Jim and Kathy came to visit last week. I met them while I was a very young man in the Navy. He was a petty officer who eventually became a commissioned officer. Kathy, his wife, was a homemaker and mom. Her job usually harder than his. Jim and Kathy were instrumental in who I eventually became. Jim taught me lessons on being a man and Kathy taught me about being a gentleman. They didn’t do it in a classroom setting. They allowed me to live with them and observe their lives. They never really told me what to do, just lived and modeled and transformed a young sailor who didn’t even know he needed molded and transformed. More than anything they showed me how to be a Christ Follower. That, more than anything else, is why I am forever in their debt.
After 35 years of lost contact, I was anxious about their visit. Would they still like me? Would I like them? Was our house too small, our cars too old, or our children too unruly. Would they want to see a lot of the local sights and color or would they want to just sort of hang out. I had a bit of anxiety. It caused a few nights of thoughtful tossing and turning.
They arrived at my place of business while I was busy working. They came in and greeted me warmly, then they sat down and became a part of the community of the barber shop. After I finished the head I was trimming and took the prescribed payment, we embraced. It didn’t last long. There was a line of customers waiting. They were just there, joining in the conversations, smiling kindly as I introduced them to our steady stream of male clientele. After work we went to dinner then went to my house. They brought simple but thoughtful gifts. We talked. There was no hurry. Nothing that couldn’t wait for the sweetness of time to bring forth. Our talk was ripe and sweet from the seasoning of time.
During the two days they spent with us we just were. There was no hurry and no worry. It wasn’t like we had been separated by decades, only a few weeks. Of course there were births and deaths, reconnection and the mystery of what happened to who.
I guess what I found was a fit. Our friendship, our love, our shared lives both then and now. Jim and Kathy went home to Denver. What they brought was a sense of Shalom. They brought peace to our home, our house, and our lives while they were here. The brought peace to our relationship. I want to see them again. I want to see them soon, but there is Shalom peace in ;that too. It will happen when it does. It was just like those comfortable clothes that hang in my closet. They keep me warm and they hold me just close enough. Never too tightly. I guess some things from back in my Navy days still fit. Now that’s comfort!