What made her cry? What made me cry? Love. It's a powerful emotion we all seek, but we also all see it all around us in the everyday ordinary things of life. Like a video clip of a young woman in her early 20's sitting on stool in her bathroom. Her boyfriend is causually walking around her with a set of electric clippers in his hand. A buzz here A buzz there. Nothing very shocking or emotional by any means. Yet, I watched. What was so emotional?
Had I read on in the post I would have learned that the girl was suffering from alopecia, a condition that causes hair loss from part of the head or body. Typically at least the head is involved. And I assume this was the case with the young girl. But it was out of an act of love that the boyfriend (who had an amazing head of hair) wanted to show solidarity with her. He wanted to stand in her shoes, or perhaps he didn't want her to stand alone. With no hair to hide behind.
I've seen dozens of video clips like this. A young child loses his hair due to chemo for his cancer, and his entire baseball team shaves their heads so he doesn't feel alone. The dad who does it for a daughter, or the daughter who does it for her dad. In fact, they are so common these days that it's surprising that they are still able to move me. Often to tears. But they do.
When I think about it, I can't help but think this is God in our midst. Shaving in solidarity. Loving unconditionally. It's such a common occurrence that we often overlook the sacredness and the holy. And yet, I weep just thinking about it. That's the kind of love and compassion given to me. Each time I fuck up. There is God. Picking me up and teaching me a new way to do whatever it was I was trying to do.
Henri Nouwen reminds us that "Long before any human being saw us, we are seen by God’s loving eyes. Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we are heard by our God who is all ears for us. Long before any person spoke to us in this world, we are spoken to by the voice of eternal love."
Hesed, steadfast love, was there before anything was created. Dare I say, it is exactly what caused creation in the first place. If that is the case, and we were created out of such great love, then we possess the kind of love that can look into someone's eyes and show mercy; that can take hold of someone's hand and show compassion despite their nationality or skin color.
It's the kind of love that offers grace when someone messes up; love that simply given away because one's heart is overflowing with goodness that was born out of hesed. The kind of love that moves you to tears knowing it's yours if you want it.
Compassion. Mercy. Grace. Love. Hesed means full immersion in the condition of being human like God's own investment in us. Even if it means picking up a pair of electric clippers and shaving your head.