Looking in the Mirror by Martha Sterne.
I remember the barber, Cecil Orr by name, who gave our three-year-old son his first real hair cut. And, oh my, it was a little trauma--the little boy lips trembling and huge crocodile tears swimming in his eyes--and his daddy and I were about to cry too--but the barber just started murmuring, "My boy, I believe you are a baseball player. I believe you are a fine baseball player. I bet you can hit that ball a mile, my man. You can hit that ball a mile, can't you Charlie?" And the little boy heard the words--you're a baseball player--and looked in the mirror and stopped seeing the scissors and hearing the whuuzzzz of the clippers and saw instead baseball player Charlie--we'd always called him Charles--and there with Cecil, he saw Charlie, the baseball player who could hit that ball a mile.
Then some years later, I went to Grady, who every time I walked in the door of the beauty parlor always screamed in mock horror, "Emergency, emergency!" But this time I walk in and I'm not in the mood for kidding around. I have been doing--often very naively and poorly--a jobs ministry in an Atlanta public housing neighborhood. And I have seen more than comfortable, middle-class people want to see or know how to understand about the grind and the pain in the prison of generations of poverty. I think the day I went to see Grady I had found out that a lovely very young woman that I'd helped to find a little crummy job had been leaving her five-year-old at home alone because she couldn't find child care and she didn't want to disappoint me. Can you imagine how I felt about that? Well, I don't talk about that to Grady, but I say, "Grady, I either need a totally new haircut or a totally new me and right now I don't care which." And without saying a word, he cut off every hair of my head--almost like shaving someone who is entering monastic orders. He did that with my back to the mirror, and I was thinking, "Oh, my Lord, what is he doing?" And then he swung the chair around. And I saw me. And he said, "Martha, you don't need a new you. You need to be you, and God knows that'll be enough." And you know what? He was right. The hair grew back and I grew up.
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