At seventeen Dora was a shy, scrawny, stick of a girl starting out on the great highway of life. Accustomed to being teased, she avoided people as much as possible. This was not difficult for her to do. She lived between the covers of books. Thus she amassed a multitude of paper friends, and at very little cost traveled to all Four Corners of the globe.
But she carried with her a truly horrendous problem. Her hair. It grew too fast and too thick. Her aunt called it ‘a sort of ginger,’ and herein lay the worst of her trouble. It was noticeable, very noticeable. Dora preferred to remain anonymous.
Regular visits to the hairdresser kept the length manageable and the mass thinned down. But the flame remained undimmed.
Before she turned eighteen, Dora found a solution. On her next visit to the hairdresser she asked, “Mr. Rossi, please will you dye my hair black?”
Comb and scissors poised above her head. His horrified eyes met hers in the mirror. “Black? You want me to dye your hair black?”
“Yes, please, Mr. Rossi.”
He moved to the front of the chair and placed the comb and scissors on the mirror shelf. “Never!” he spat angrily. “Never will I dye your hair black! It would be a sin for me to do that!”
He turned his back on her and walked away. Stunned she sat, swathed in the hairdresser’s cape. What was he going to do? What should she do? After a few minutes stretched with elastic tension, a young woman walked across to her. She picked up the comb and scissors.
“My father has asked me to cut your hair,” she explained. “He is very upset. What did you say to him?”
“I only asked him to dye my hair,” answered Dora. “It is too bright. I thought it would be better if it was black.”
Helga Rossi slid her fingers into the shining mass, lifting it away from the scalp. Considering it, she pursed her lips and nodded. “I see,” she said. “I understand.”
She raised her eyes to meet Dora’s in the mirror. “My father… you see my father, he has black hair.” She patted her shining cap of smooth dark waves. “I have black hair. But for us it is our natural hair color. Your hair…” She lifted the strands again, seeming to consider her choice of words. “Your hair is like the sunshine. In the trade, we say it is ‘golden auburn,’ and there are few people who have truly golden auburn hair. When you first came into the salon my father said, ‘I will cut that girl’s hair. It makes me feel rich, so rich.’ My father is a fanciful man. He said you bring the light of the blessing of God into this dark place. The women bring their gossip and their complaints to the hairdresser, and he must listen and agree and sympathize. You come with your bright hair and you seldom speak. He is rested and enriched. But now… Now I will be your hairdresser. He will not touch your hair again. You have made him poor.”
Dora shrank beneath her gaze. Miss Rossi snipped and combed and snipped until the hair was short and neat. Golden strands of refuse sprinkled the floor, waiting for the broom.
At the counter, Dora offered a stumbling apology. Miss Rossi nodded slightly and turned away.
At twenty-one Dora heard the words: “For all have sinned…all have come short of the glory of God…”
The guilt of the hairdressing salon enfolded her again, magnified a thousand times. In memory she heard Miss Rossi say, ‘He will not touch your hair again. You have made him poor.’
Her mind rebelled. ‘How can I make God poor? I am only one-nothing-among the millions of people in this world.’
The minister repeated, “God so loved Dora that He gave His only begotten Son…do you realize, Dora, what it cost God to bring you out of the darkness of the sin of this world; to bring you into the light of His mercy and His love?”
Weeping. Prayer. A storm-lashed peace.
“Yes, God has brought you out of the darkness of this world, and into the light of His grace. He has given you the gift of His love, His Son Jesus Christ.”
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