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Snip—Snip—Smidgens of hair tickle my cheek, then splay upon the cape snapped around my neck. A glimpse into the oval mirror above the styling table catches the sinewy forearms of my hairdresser as he pauses before gripping the scissors and resumes cutting my bangs. Chatter and funky music pump up the busyness in his salon.

Again, I look into the mirror. Puffiness beneath my brown eyes and white-hair flecking my temples reveal my aging. It wasn’t always like this. A much younger face looked back at me when I had first sat in his styling hair. That was thirty-five years ago.

The first chair was in the Casual Coiffe in St. Louis, Missouri, a salon owned by his uncle. Not only was I surprised by his precision haircut, but also his kindness drew me to return every four months.

Over the years, pieces of his story emerged: an avid reader; working with his uncle and managing a fourplex in the Tower Grove area; his marriage and helping to birth two sons, parent, then empower them to be on their own; his first salon, with two subsequent changes in venues. Care lines in his clean-shaven face deepened as he styled hair and later cared for the needs of his infirm uncle, even his death and the disposal of his cremains in Ohio. Annual family vacations over the years to Mexican beaches sparked even more stories.

However, styling hair eventually became an occupational hazard that required several shoulder surgeries followed by painful convalescences. Once healed, he was back at work.

Helping his patrons, through the artistry of his hands, recalls a saying of Jesus: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:23.

His name is Rob, of Rob and Company Salon in St. Louis, Missouri.

 

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Like a centipede, each foot laced inside steel-toes-work boots, so drags the remaining hours before the onset of a New Year. Everyone feels it, whether partying in glitzy bars, chanting in monasteries, setting off fireworks, or tossing atop rumpled sheets.

Before us looms the mystery of spent time with its missed opportunities and moral failures. Offsetting this sorry state, however, yawns future change with its disequilibrium or pain, either consciously embraced or forced upon us.

For those with faith, it’s about glimpsing the Unseen Hand shaping our psyches, moving us toward the actualization of our birthright. Admittedly, our sojourn in this life is brief as compared with multiple civilizations before us. History and literature and the arts are replete with stories of how others have done their lives, not without suffering.

Such deep thoughts, of necessity, plunge us within our sacred depths; therein, we learn to listen for direction, to seek counsel when perplexed, and to obey with the heart as we tread into the tomorrows of our lives.

We are not alone and never have been.

 

 

Put together a man with humble spirit, who jettisoned decades of brilliant compositions and endured eight years of fitful starts until birthing his distinct voice, tintinnabuli (Latin for “little bells”)—and you will encounter the Estonian genius of Arov Part (1935).

A chance listening of his Miserere (1992) that was performed by the Radio Choir of Latvia and the Los Angeles Philharmonic poured balm upon my painful convalesence that was caused by last July’s accident. It also afforded me a lens through which to view the fractured world around us, tottering upon extinction.

This forty-six minute piece conjoins the Hebrew Psalm 51 with the Latin hymn, Dies irae, the Medieval Sequence found in the Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead. Part’s intimacy with the living Word of God shimmers within the silent pauses that punctuate this work and seep into the marrow of our bones. Such is manifested through the interplay of the five soloists and chorus and the accompanying horns, woodwinds, percussion, organ, and two electric guitars. The overall effect is a new texture of the phenomenon of mercy that wraps us within wordlessness. We are made whole.

Part’s Miserere can be experienced on YouTube.

 

Available on Amazon

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