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  • Writer's pictureBecky Proctor

"'Does she, or doesn't she?'

“Only your hair dresser knows for sure.”

Those words are from a 1957 ad campaign for Clairol hair color.

Yes, ladies, you no longer had to go to a salon for color treatment. You could color at home, with results so natural, no one would ever guess you’d done it yourself.

Despite those confident pronouncements, I recall seeing ladies whose attempts at covering a few gray hairs resulted in their new hue resembling the color of a pair of black patent leather shoes. Just as dark and just as shiny.

In the past 60 plus years, hair color has improved dramatically and many of us produce beautifully natural results at home. But, in my opinion, there is something quite fabulous about a head of white hair.

It’s striking no matter who’s wearing it, woman or man. Lady Gaga or Anderson Cooper. Helen Mirren or Richard Gere. Or, to name a few of my friends, Sandy E., Beverly B., Trisha P.

The Book of Proverbs reads (The living Bible version), “White hair is a crown of glory and is seen most among the godly.”

Other versions read similarly, “Gray hair is like a crown of honor … earned by living a good life.”

Does this mean that mousy brown means you led a mediocre life? I digress.

When King Solomon wrote Proverbs, he could not have anticipated that future generations would be changing the color of their hair as often and as bizarrely as we do. (I’d love to get Solomon’s take on hot pink and fluorescent orange tresses.)

Solomon, according to an explanation in my NIV Study Bible, “treats aging as a status symbol.” I totally agree. When I want sage advice, I go to someone with experience. Someone who has lived life and knows the ropes.

I've always said that I can often identify adults who grew up spending a good deal of time with their grandparents. They are different from their counterparts. More measured in speech and action. Thoughtful. Wise.

So, think about it. How can we not revere the wisdom we gain through our day to day existence? The living, breathing, interacting, consuming, the pains, the joy, the losses, the gains, the thoughts and the deeds of yesterday have been synthesized to create the person we are today. Gray hair included.

You must be thinking, “Do we have to stop coloring our hair? Is that where this is heading?”

Actually, no. I’m fascinated with everything about hair salons and makeup counters.

To quote my 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Wayne, as he gazed out at a roomful of 15-year-old girls with eyelids weighed down by thick layers of sky blue eye shadow, “There will come a time when you learn to use makeup to enhance your features.”

So the wisdom that comes with age and experience may see us letting our gray hair show or covering it up and using a lighter hand when applying our makeup.

But true wisdom calls us out of our destructive nature, regardless of where it originated. A family grudge. A broken heart. An inherited bias or prejudice.

Wisdom says let go. Let go of anger, insult and fear. Allow light and fresh air to reach old wounds. Stop blaming and realize many of your burdens are self-inflicted.

How different our world would be if today we could all agree and commit to showing mercy to those who don’t deserve it, speaking kindly to the angry, reaching out to those different from ourselves with the love, mercy and kindness we ourselves are given.

Lord, show us opportunities to grow in wisdom. In the face of anger and insult, keep our hackles down, keep us from taking things personally, and help up, dear God, to see the pain and humanity in each and every person we encounter. Amen.

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