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Out Doing the Lord’s Work, Part VI by Vegard

Out Doing the Lord’s Work, Part VI

The meeting, where a relaxation of our code of appearance was decided, was held on Saturday, and the reverend used the sermon on Sunday to inform every one of the new instructions. Making it a sermon directed to the young people of the congregation.
Sarah smiled approvingly at me, and many of the young people seemed hardly to believe their ears. Several adults, mostly parents of young children and teenagers, were nodding their approval. Mother was amongst those who seemed less than pleased. Her lips were pursed, and she had that frown between her eyes I knew so well, and I knew I was in for a thourough telling off after church.
Sarah informed me though that we were invited to her uncle David’s after church, for supper, and I looked forward to it. Not least, because I then had an excuse not to see mother and have her express her disappointment in me.

"Brother Michael!" David met us with a huge grin.
"Brother David!" I said, and we embraced.
Esiah stood by the door, with a grin on his face so wide it looked like his head might split.
I didn’t know what to say, but David looked at me, and simply said "Thank you!" And it seemed so heart-felt I just smiled.
The supper was one of the happiest occations I have ever experienced with members of the Church. The best way to describe it was that it was a feeling of liberation. The joy I could see on Esiah’s face filled me with a feeling of certainty that this was right.
"Michael," David said, "How do we go about this? Can we get our hair cut straight away? "And use a regular t-shirt for school?" Esiah chipped in.
I smiled, "I don’t see why not?"
Father and son grinned at each other, and David said, "Can we go with you?" He chuckled, "You know, we’ve actually never been to a barber shop."

Despite having quite the work-load these days, with people wanting their houses in order before fall and winter set in, we agreed to meet and pick Esiah up after school together, and we would all head to "my" barber.
Esiah had worn a plain blue t-shirt to school that day, but he was really looking forward to going back the next day without the, as he said, "dorky" haircut he’d had. I didn’t laugh at this, as I felt it was disrespectful, and noticing my reaction he quickly apologized.

At the barbers I took the chair first and Clint, my regular, caped me up. "The usual?" he asked.
"I think I’ll let you shave my back and sides today" I said with a smile. David and Esiah weren’t the only ones getting a taste of more freedom. I had never had shorter than 1/16 of an inch when I was at home.
"It’s been a while," Clint remarked as he combed my hair down, and he was right. I felt almost scruffy, with about half an inch in length around my ears, and in the back.
Clint is a real "Take charge" kind of guy, and he pushed my head down, and I obediently kept it down as he began mowing away the hair in the back, using his left hand to stear my head to each side, so he could clean up the sides as well.
As he allowed me to sit straight again, facing forward, I caught a glimpse of David and Esiah, both staring, as in awe of what was happening to me.
Mark, the other barber, had finished up with an elderly gentleman, and asked "So which one of you is first?"
"I think you’d better go first son," David said to an eager Esiah, and he practically sprang out of the seat and rushed over.
I had never seen anyone so eager to get in the chair, and even Mark and Clint seemed to find it amusing.
"What can I do for you today young man? And I’m Mark by the way."
"I’m Esiah, and I would like a short haircut please," Esiah replied, and rather than have to explain how, he simply pointed at a picture above the mirror, "Like that!"
We all craned our necks to see what he pointed at, and I smiled in approval as I saw a picture of a man with a really tight crew-cut. Maybe a number 2 on the sides, and no more than two inches on top.
"That’s a good haircut Esiah," I told him, and he smiled happily at me.
David practically beamed at his son.
As I was lathered up for the close shave of my back and sides, I heard Mark fire up his clippers and move in on Esiah. Unable to see much, as I was required to bend my head this way and that for the shave, I could only guess that his sides and back were being mowed short. For the first, but probably not the last time.
And I was right, as Clint finished off, I stepped down, and sat down to watch. Esiah was almost "white walled", with pale skin showing through the really short back and sides contrasting strongly with his tanned face and neck.

David now took Clint’s chair, and watched himself in the mirror as his hair was combed down. It was so thick it almost looked like a wig. A dark blond wig, peppered with grey.
"What can I do for you today?" Clint asked.
"I would like a flat-top please," David said, rather shyly for a grown man, looking at me in the mirror, as if for acceptance as he said it. I smiled and nodded, at the same time thinking it was wrong that he should seek my approval for this.
"Excellent choice!" Clint said, "You really do have the hair for it!"
Mark was putting the finishing touches to Esiah as his dad made his request, and he looked really smart with his new cut. Stroking the back of his head with his hand when he was uncaped he came and sat down with me to enjoy the show.

Clint asked David how short he wanted the flattop, and I was surprised at how well David could account for himself, and how he wanted his hair cut. I could only guess that this was something he had been longing for for a very long time.
"Ok. So, you want a number two on the landing strip, and a one on the back and sides?" Clint repeated.
David nodded, and I was glad he wasn’t asking for a "recon" horseshoe or anything like that. That would not look right in my opinion, and I was glad I would not have to tell him he would have to go for something more modest.
Feeling quite prudish I did make a mental note however that I would mention it to him later, that this was probably as short as he could go on top.
Clint attached a guard on his Osters and fired them up, at the same time pushing David’s head forward a little. Starting at the nape he moved the clippers forcefully up, over the crown, and a good three inches further, stopping where the skull started curving down towards his forehead. He then denuded the rest of the back, and did the same around, and over David’s ears, creating a rather rough taper towards the top, which I knew he would make perfect later.
He then put the clippers down, and using scissors over comb he shortened the top down to about an inch before he put some wax in David’s hair and used the blowdrier and the comb to get it to stand perfectly to attention. The hair being as thick as it was, it almost stood up perfectly by it self.
Esiah giggled, "You look funny Dad!"
Smiling at his son in the mirror David tilted his head forward a little, looking at the lone landing strip nestled in a forrest of inch long hair.
"Your Dad’s gonna look awesome when I’m done though!" Clint said, confidently, as he began sculpting the top with a flattopper comb and another set of clippers.
He worked in deep concentration, and David sat stock still watching his own transformation in the mirror.
Finishing the top to a perfect flat Clint began sculpting the sides, and making the taper in the sides and back just right, before finishing with a straight razor to clean up the little hairs around the ears and down the neck.
Clint was right. Awesome was the right word for it. A soft "Wow!" escaped from Esiah as he looked at his father getting up from the chair.
David wore an almost timid smile, as he kept running the tips of his right hand fingers down the landing strip, and Clint kept grinning at him. He had obviously enjoyed the transformation as well.
"It really is just the right haircut for you!" he said.
"Yes," David said, "Thank you so much! You have done a perfect job of it!"
I thought to myself more older guys should have flattops, if they had enough hair for it. There was something about the scatter of grey in there that looked really good. It made David look like a take-charge kind of guy, or a model for men’s pants.
Maybe that’s why the Church had not liked haircuts like this? The Church liked modesty, not for people to take charge or look like models or movie stars. I made a note to discuss this with Sarah as I came home.

I made a point of avoiding mother for a few days, to allow her some time to adjust and calm down, but had to go see her after she had come to our house and pestered Sarah about "The damage Michael has done to the Church!"
I showed up at her house, with a firm intent to tell her to leave my wife out of this and to take it directly with me, but as I sat down with her I sensed sadness in her anger, and suddenly realised she was feeling left out. I had moved, gotten married, and she was probably lonely. The haircuts weren’t the real issue here. Her feeling left out, and not being allowed to care for her son any more, with the "dorky", as Esiah had put it, haircuts in the kitchen and all.
Mother looked defiantly out the window.
"Can I have supper here with you tonight mother?" I asked, adding with a smile, "I miss your beef casserole."
She looked startled, and I was surprised to see her eyes were moist as she turned to me, "I don’t have all the ingredients now, but I can make us an omelette?"
"That would be great!"
I sat in my usual place at her table and watched as she cooked, and I didn’t mention her behavior towards Sarah, or her attitude towards the changes in the Church. In stead I told her about a house over on Main Street Fred and I was working on.
"How is Fred?" Mother asked.
"He’s good. He said to say hi."
Mother was smiling as she added spices and whipped the eggs.
"Would it be ok if he, Sarah and I came over for supper tomorrow?" I asked cautiously.
"Off course," she turned to me and smiled, "I’ll make the beef casserole!"
We ate and chatted, and had a very pleasant time together. And rather than leave straight after, I texted Sarah that things were good, and I would be home after coffee.
Watching the news together we talked about the godlessness in the World, as we tend to do in our congregation. It’s a bit like talking about the weather for other people I suppose. An easy topic we can all agree on.

I asked the reverend if I could have a word in church on Sunday. I was nervous, but managed to be composed as I walked up to the pulpit. Many looked at me with smiles on their faces, some were serious, and a few looked away. But they were not many.
I saw brother Thomas sitting in the third pew, with the remains of his hair cropped close, rather than the inch long fringe he had had a week ago. Having shaved off the rest of his male pattern baldness made him look 15 years younger.
"I’m sorry," I said, "For my part in creating strife within the Church."
People were looking at me, I had everyones attention with this opening.
"I have been eager to help, to make life a little easier for those who have found our ways hard, and who have longed for a little bit of freedom. I still feel this is important, and that the new code of apperance is for the best of us all, and for the Church.
But I think this has left a feeling of less unity within our congregation. And for this I apologise."
I looked around. There was David and Esiah, looking at me. David gave me an encouraging smile that I greatly appreciated. His flat top really looked awesome I thought as I continued.
"Do we all have to look almost the same to be united though? I felt, and still feel, that we are united, but the "new" kind of united is maybe a bit different.
It used to be, for my part, that I felt we were united because we were so different from everyone else. We stood out, but perhaps not because we were leading more modest lives, avoiding the sins and pitfalls of society, but more because we just looked different."
There was some murmur of concent from the congregation, and I met mother’s eyes as she looked at me. There was almost a fierce pride there that I had not seen before.
"Are we right in asking others amongst us to stand out, and be ostracized because of clothes and hair-style? Or should we ask of our young, and old alike, that we stand out through the way we act and through our words? Through living our lives devoted to Him, without the unnessesary distractions of worrying how people will accept your appearance?"
I had warmed up now, and these words had come almost of their own accord.
"I hope we can all feel the strong bonds and unity amongst us, in the way we behave, in our work, in helping each other, and through doing His work together!
I think I see a new confidence in many here in church today, as they are allowed to be themselves. Can we stand together, and support them, and each other please?"
Everyone was looking at me, and I suddenly had no idea what to say next. So, a bit awkwardly, I just smiled and said "Thank you."
Stepping down, I walked over and sat with Sarah and mother, and the reverend took the pulpit again. He thanked me for my words, and asked us to end the days sermon with a psalm.

The mood as we walked out was very different from the previous Sunday, when the new code of appearance had been announced, and many thanked me. Mother stood next to me looking really pleased as people talked to us. I spotted David talking to three men, who seemed to be asking him about, and perhaps complimenting him, on his haircut.

That night mother was at our house for supper, and Sarah asked mother to help her with the sides for the pot roast we were having, which she happily did.
We sat down together, and I said prayers before eating, thanking the Lord for helping us and guiding us in our lives, and for His help as I had talked to the congregation.
We all looked up, and it was a joy to see both Sarah and mother smiling fondly at me, and at each other over the table.

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