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Whups! I look closer and flip on the light, then blink several times into the mirror above the bathroom sink. More wrinkling on the sides of my mouth gives me the appearance of an angry crone; only with a broad grin does she vanish. And puffy pastiness spooks my eyes, a condition that suggests sleepless nights that rarely occur.

Then I remember my age and sink back upon my heels. For years I have been smoothing blush upon my sallow cheeks before social engagements lest others be alarmed by my cadaver-like complexion. All of this makes me vulnerable to cheerful come-ons to try this or that rejuvenation cream.

After marveling at the youthful complexion of Kate Middleton during Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding, I looked up her product, BB Cream Golden Glow, she has been touting, worldwide, much to the dismay of the Royals. The compound of water, cyclopentasiloxane, octyldodecanol, dimethicone, and glycerin promises a healthy glow effect with just the right hint of illumination, offers immediate and long-term hydrating benefits, protects skin from premature aging and environmental stresses, and promotes skin regeneration. Just the product for me, I mused!

However, I scrolled down further and learned that a twenty-ounce-jar of BB Cream Golden Glow costs $393.

Yet, my heart of hearts knows the utter foolishness of all of this. Only earnest obedience to the consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29) within our shadowy depths brings about this glow. In this daily dying, we find ultimate life. It’s always been that way.



Who is this old woman, her back to us? Her mussed white hair gathered at the nape of her neck? Her plaid jacket dwarfing her sloping shoulders? Her ample pelvis, stretched at having birthed children? Her strong soiled feet? Her right knee cushioned by one of her down-at-the heels flats?

Where is she? Some industrialized city? Some Third World country? Our Own?

Why her recourse to underground murky waters?

She stoops over something–perhaps her washing. One item, already wrung out, sits in the pink basin to her left. Perhaps the lavender box contains soap powder. It is empty. Yet, there she is, on her knees, alone, her hands working on something in front of her. Hardship appear to be her familiar; it just is.

This story-scene, accessed from Photo Pin, jars my sensibilities. Should my circumstances change, will I humbly accept my lot?

I often wonder.

The afternoon drones with sounds mimicking the dentist’s drill, only amplified tenfold: the ache is similar although I’m not bibbed and numbed and goggled and sitting in the dentist’s chair. It’s the thirty-foot-cypress, overgrown and dropping limbs in my backyard, that is coming down.

Fifteen minutes earlier, I watched the arborist, squat and muscular as a bulldog, buckle his harness around his waist, hitch his chainsaw to his belt, strap spur- supports to his calves and feet, hurl his support rope around the base of the tree, and with his hard hat buckled under his chin, mount the tree.

In no time, lower branches crash to the ground, and two burly helpers heft them over the fence into the jaws of the chipper parked in the street. More wrenching of what was the tree resonates with the ache of the chainsaw. One hour later, all that remains of the cypress is a pile of logs, their ends resembling six-petelled rustic flowers. The afternoon quiet returns.

I’m left with long thoughts …



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