25 Jun Grey Hair, it’s Power and Might
“The Fear of God is the Beginning of Wisdom” Proverbs 1:7
I was deep in thought as I stood in front of the luggage carousel waiting for my bags. Surrounding me were hundreds of people also waiting, some with great patience and others, not so much. It had been almost 20-minutes since we landed, and the delay was beginning to take its toll on my mature 70-year-old body. In poor physical health, I wasn’t sure how much longer I could stand.
A sudden blast from the air horn (much like the blast from a Shofar) startled me as it announced the second coming of our luggage. As bags and boxes began flying down the shoot, a young man appeared out of nowhere and intrusively placed himself between me and the carousel.
Really? I asked myself. Did this fellow just walk in front of me as though I were invisible? Never mind that I was obviously an elder (my white/grey hair and the cane I leaned on were obvious clues) but what about basic common courtesy? I couldn’t believe someone would be so rude—so intrusive!
I’ll admit, I initially wanted to not-so-gently tap him on the shoulder and call him to task. This blatant show of disrespect felt like an abrasion to my soul and spirit. But then I remembered I wasn’t 30 years old anymore and in today’s world there is no way to know how someone will react to direct confrontation. And so, I let this poor-mannered fellow retrieve his luggage and go his way without saying a word—without telling him how rude, disrespectful, and downright ill-mannered he was.
In retrospect, I also let him go without showing him the face of Jesus-Yeshua.
On the outside, I appeared to be a docile old grey-haired man, but on the inside, I was a ranting and raving lunatic. The nerve of this kid! Didn’t he learn manners growing up? Someone needs to teach him a lesson! I played the entire scenario over and over in my mind long after I schlepped my luggage off the carousel and wheeled it out to my car. In fact, I was in danger of blowing the entire situation out of proportion when the Holy Spirit began to convict me that perhaps I was the person who needed to be taught a lesson.
Growing up Jewish, I had a deep and abiding respect for my elders. I learned at the feet of some very wise and knowledgeable grey-haired men. Whenever possible, I would pick the brain of any and all elders, knowing they were way ahead of me in decision-making strength. I soaked up the knowledge that comes from an awareness of life’s lessons, the skill, and understanding you get only from experience and/or education. I instinctively knew there was great power in learning from Grey Heads! Mostly, I learned that being wise is all about decision making and choices. The ability to think on your feet—to respond rationally and not emotionally—particularly in uncomfortable or confusing situations.
In short, the ability to walk the talk of faith.
I was in my 30s and traveling the country as a professional singer when I vividly recall meeting a man who was 53—I thought he was ancient. Yet the wisdom he shared stayed with me for life.
He told me never go on the road and create situations that excluded my wife and family. He said that even sight-seeing without them could put me in peril, he explained that if I created a place in my life where my wife did not exist; if I created a place where I could run and be “single” and without worry that if I did these things, even in complete innocence then it could invite the ever-present cloud of disaster into my marriage. That my wife would know that something was different and strange… She would instinctively know I had created a life where she no longer was welcomed.
The power of the Grey Head who gave me this advice was a guy who had lived twenty years longer than I had. He had learned the hard way and lost his wife and family.
Throughout all the vicissitudes, after all my dues have been paid and the dark moments of life, lived…my wife (la novia mia and I have remained solid.) Thankful I listened to this sage wisdom.
As I recalled this life lesson, I found myself wondering about the young man at the airport. Perhaps he wasn’t intentionally being rude. Perhaps he didn’t grow up with a deep respect for his elders—with the knowledge that comes from grey-hair. Could I have responded in a way that gently rebuked his action without confrontation or anger? Could I have said something that would stay with him long after the sting of rebuke?
What could I have done differently?
Now that I am the grey-haired man, I realize the awesome responsibility I have to pass on what I have learned over the years. And I pray the next time I experience a young seemingly rude whippersnapper that I’ll be able to respond in a way that pleases Yeshua and leaves a lasting impression of G-ds love and mercy.
Indeed, there is power and might in grey hair. And while I’m thankful for mine, I’m still a work-in-progress and praying for wisdom and discernment to wear it well.