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Cut Your Hair!
by Amy Kenneley

He sits at the back of the church, his long hair falling in dark curls over his shoulders. He is a young man, in his early 20's, with a neat beard and moustache, neatly dressed.

He is not homeless, or "on" anything, but in our conservative community, where most haircuts on men and boys are performed at Tom and Tony's Barbershop or Best Cuts, his long hair stands out.

Having raised boys, the sight of long hair doesn't bother me. I luxuriated in my baby sons' ringlets, and loved to see the soft fluff of toddler's unshorn heads. I put off the "first haircut" until absolutely the very last minute. "No Little Lord Fauntleroys around here," their father insisted.

School standards kept them in line, but each one pushed the envelope of arbitration as the school year came to a close, and summer permitted flopsey mops sun-streaked by swimming and sports.

As they entered the work force, business and safety standards diminished the desire to grow long locks. Neat and clean and trim became their new grown-up choices. One had no choice in the matter-- Parris Island Boot Camp shaved every last lingering curl.

Now my grown sons are at the point where they are catching up to their father on the tonsorial path - thinning before graying.

In His Steps

But what to make of this young man who has so often let his hair grow to longer than Little Lord Fauntleroy length? What statement is he making? What convention is he flaunting?

An older woman leaned over his shoulder on the way to her pew seat and whispered "Cut your hair!" as if to shame him for his unconventional look in our conventional church. He has heard such remarks often, and yet he doesn't seem to "get it." He bows his head a little and acknowledges the person, but offers no explanation.

But I do. I sit next to his mother in choir, and I do "get it."

She confides to me why he lets his hair grow long. When it is long enough, he will get it cut and his long hair will go to Locks of Love. Sure, you must have seen coverage of this great charity - long hair is cut off and made into wigs for children who are undergoing chemotherapy and have lost their own hair. Usually the news coverage shows young girls having their hair trimmed short. What an admirable thing to do!

And no one criticizes a young girl letting her hair grow long, and longer, and longer. But a male?

He should say, "But I'm doing this for a reason" and then explain the charity. But he doesn't. Instead, he will come to church faithfully, and sometime soon get a really close haircut. And it will be short and suitable for our congregation---for a time. Then he will let it grow long again-for the next young child who will be so happy to have the wig made from his hair.

It would be so easy for him to answer back. He could wear a T-shirt that said, "Pardon my Locks" on the front and on the back, "My Locks are for Locks of Love"

Instead, he sits and quietly smiles. I guess he knows what he is doing and that is enough for him. He looks steadily ahead at the man with the long hair hanging on a cross.

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