I went on a quest recently to try and find my hair. Although I still see hair there children, my own and other church kids, when they draw pictures of me depict a nice polished surface on top. Noticing that pictures from previous places I had lived showed me with obvious hair I decided to go back and look for where I might have lost it.
I went back to where it started in Rochester, MN. I reconnected with my high school friends and though, with some inside jokes, some reminded nicknames, some remembered close calls, and lots of laughter, the years melted away I still did not find any hair. One friend had become a brilliant playwriter, another a prodigious eater and collector of Porsches, another a very successful security consultant. All were very good husbands and dads. But no hair there.
Next was Decorah, IA where I attended Luther College for nine semesters. Memories of college baseball, meeting the love of my life, a beloved professor and learning filled me with great warmth. A favorite pizza place even added to the aura of this beautiful gem in the Driftless Region. And though I loved every moment of my time there, and I can even imagine dying there, no hair was there.
I followed the Driftless down to its southern tip, Dubuque, IA where I attended Wartburg Seminary. The seminary is a stately limestone structure, modeled after a German courtyard and castle, on land given in the 1880s to the Lutherans by a prominent Catholic family. My years there, too, had been blessed—my favorite professor from there grew up in Hayward, by the way! I love learning and I love the Bible and the Church so it was a great place to reminisce. Lots of Bibles, lots of theology and Church books, lots of sacred music, precious colleagues, little hair.
I would have liked to go to Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific where I spent the years 1990 and 1991 with my new bride but travel there was expensive and I didn’t want to get malaria, again! That, too, had been a wonderful experience with locals and missionaries from around the globe doing God’s work and seeing fascinating cultures and natural phenomenon. If I did leave my hair there it was too far away to retrieve it.
I suspect my hair was some where in the vicinity of Viroqua, WI where I served my first parish because it was those photos that started to indicate a certain culling of the follicles was taking place. I had probably been too busy to notice what with working with four churches and building a playground and welcoming twins into the world. Not there.
Alma, WI held some promise because that is where I had lived the longest in one place ever in my life and where children 3-4-and-5 were gratefully received. It wasn’t in the theater where we did a Public Radio show. It wasn’t on the banks of the Mississippi where we did a Music and Arts Fest every Labor Day Sunday. It wasn’t in the pulpit I preached from every Sunday and Wednesday for over 18 years nor in the woods where I took 32 deer. It wasn’t in the Cape Cod house we built and my wife made beautiful. If it was in the water where I caught walleyes it had long ago been taken past New Orleans. It must be in Alma somewhere because I know it wasn’t here when I arrived in Hayward.
For a moment I entertained the thought that my hair had simply emigrated to different parts of my body as it seems it is part of my weekly self-care regimen to weed whack the four pelts coming out of my ears and nostrils. No joy there, either.
As I slept on it I awoke up to the realization that I am one who can keep precious memories and great experiences or I can have hair—but not both. Every lost follicle was traded in on a beautiful person or a wonderful experience. Precious moments. And it is not even remotely an even trade as the blessings I have received are way more than anything I have lost.
So if my noggin messes up the lighting in some pictures, if while sitting in the outfield they ask me to wear a hat so the glare doesn’t disable the batters, if I am colder up top sooner in the fall than others, do not feel sorry for me. Do not tease me. It is the indication that my life is blessed. I still have hair left to lose and I can hardly wait.