When the Word advises us to count it all joy…, do you think that can even apply to a bad haircut?
I always go to Japanese hair salons with fear in my heart. You see, my thin, fine, lifeless hair is an inheritance from my Scotch-Irish roots. (The other ‘roots’ I hide with a box brought over in my suitcase from Walmart—but I digress!) The problem is that Japanese ‘roots’ are attached to thick, shiny, voluminous manes. And these are attached to the people who cut my hair. They have never seen hair like mine, and they have certainly never CUT hair like mine. This meeting of cultures can at times be nothing short of disastrous.
I went to have my hair trimmed today. After 20 years in Japan, I speak Japanese fluently and know how to communicate the concept of ‘trim’ vs. ‘cut it all off.’ However, this sweet Japanese girl barely older than my daughter did not quite catch the difference in nuance. From the first wield of the scissors, I knew this was to be no ordinary ‘trim.’ I began to wonder what color and shape of paper bag I should don for my trip home…
Actually, I think part of the problem was that she was distracted by our conversation. She had just asked me what brought me to Japan when she made her first slice. She was trying to recall anything at all she knew about global workers or Christianity as she continued her pruning. It seemed that finding common ground with this particular customer was a bit challenging.
Over the next few minutes I learned that this beautiful young woman had never been to a church, never met a Christian—never even been to a ‘Christian’ wedding (any Western wedding ceremony in which the bride wears a wedding gown), though they are quite common in Japan. The only thing she could think to ask me was if we are the ones who believed in ‘Maria-sama’ (the virgin Mary). Well, yes and no, I explained. Then, are we the ones that cross ourselves and say ‘Amen’? Well, yes and no, again. She asked what ‘Amen’ means, and I explained. She looked a bit confused.
We finally found a bit of common ground when I mentioned gospel music and ‘Sister Act.’ She liked that movie and the music in it.
And then she said an amazing thing. She said that she and her family were not particularly Buddhist. That in fact she did not really have any religious ties, and that she would really like to visit a Christian church sometime. Yes, she would be interested in attending a gospel music concert, she said. And she would love to get to know my daughter Katie—it would be cool to have a gaijin (foreign) friend.
Tomorrow I will go by the salon and drop off a flyer about the gospel concert coming up next month. I will give her Katie’s cell phone e-mail address. And as I brush (and brush, and straighten, and tug at!) my very short hair for the next few weeks, I will pray for my new friend Aki, that she will come to the concert…or to our home…or to our church…and learn about Jesus, who loves her deeply.
It really was a bad haircut. But it was a great day and, yes, I do count it all joy!