by Anita Lustrea
The decision to let my hair go gray did not come easily. Discerning my reasons for this action was equally difficult. I joked with friends and said, “I’d rather enjoy a couple more nights to eat out per month than pay to color my hair.” Really? Is that the best I could do? More eating out vs. looking younger and more hip? I’ve even used the reasoning that I don’t want to put those chemicals on my hair any longer. People who know me well see right through that argument. They know I’ve never cared about chemicals in hair color, lotions or make-up. Nor am I one to buy organic unless it’s the less expensive choice.
So why go gray now at age 57? I’m discerning that it’s wrapped up in a combination of reasons.
Esther de Waal said in her book, To Pause at the Threshold, “There is a traditional saying of ancient wisdom: ‘A threshold is a sacred thing.’” For me to move into the realm of gray hair is a threshold of sorts, and more of a sacred threshold than I originally thought. After being let go from a 31 year career in radio, I knew I’d never find another job quite like it. It was a niche job. Since I was just 55 at the time, I figured I would find something else to help sock away money toward retirement. I was still occupying space in the all-important earning years. As days turned to weeks turned to months, my husband and I sensed God had a new direction for us and it wasn’t an upwardly mobile track. We sold our Chicago area house and made a pilgrimage to Sarasota, Florida.
My first response to moving into our 55+ community was, “I’m NOT one of them!” Truth be told, we arrived at our new home when I was age 56. I was not ready for retirement, but neither was I ready to ramp up to a big job in the marketplace. I needed a rest, a sabbatical, as did my husband. We needed time to discern what might be next. We’d found our location but we were still pondering vocation. Unexpectedly, my spiritual direction practice went from 2 to 12. My spiritual director suggested I might want to pay attention to that. Maybe a new season of life was presenting itself. One where I would embrace myself as a woman of wisdom, a crone.
In our society, the deeper meaning of crone has been lost. Current dictionary definitions label a crone as ugly, withered and old. In world literature, a crone is anything but withered and ugly. She is a woman who walks with a wind-in-the-hair kind of freedom, who lives into courageous non-conformity and has a wisdom that encompasses her own story which she fully understands and willingly offers to the world. This definition put forth by author, speaker and spiritual director, Janet Davis, is one, I’m finding, that I am ready to live into. It is one that embraces crows feet and even gray hair.
Today I choose to cross this sacred threshold. I confess there is still slight trepidation. Don’t be surprised if I wind up trying out a colorful streak in my gray hair. Confidence has replaced conformity.
What thresholds are you wrestling with right now??
Anita Lustrea hosts the Faith Conversations podcast. She is a Spiritual Director, Author and Media Coach. (Click here to visit her website.) Anita’s most recent books include What Women Tell Me: Finding Freedom From the Secrets We Keepand Shades of Mercy, about her beloved Northern Maine.