Materials at hand: A comb or brush that you use (or some of your hair from it), with a candle as a prayer focus.

(Light the candle and with your hands spread open say:)
Loving God, Creator of all that is,
here I am — today, in this place,
with all the senses you have given me.
Help me to use them to come to experience you more deeply.
You are present everywhere around me;
open me to know more of the many ways
that your goodness surrounds me.
Thank you for this time to be with you and listen to you.

Take a look at your comb or brush and see what you use daily as if for the first time. This tool helps you to put your hair in order as you begin your day; it works with many hairs — too many to count — helping each one to have a place and a role on your head.

Feel the shape of it and imagine yourself to be one of those hairs that it helps put in place as it goes by. Slowly draw it through your hair and be aware of how your scalp feels, noticing in a way you usually never take time for. As you do, be grateful for each of those hairs and for the gift of hair, which protects our heads and gives us a chance to express ourselves in the way wear it.

Listen to and reflect on one or more of these passages as you watch the candlelight play across the comb or brush:

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight. But even the hairs on your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.(Luke 12:6-7)

[God says:] Hear me, O house of Jacob, all who remain of the house of Israel, my burden since your birth, whom I have carried from your infancy. Even to your old age I am the same, even when your hair is grey I will bear you; It is I who have done this, I who will continue, and I who will carry you to safety. (Isiah 46:3-4, NAB)

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come. Your power and your righteousness, O God, reach the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? (Psalm 71:17-19)

. . . a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind [Jesus] at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment . . . And he said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.' (Luke 7:37-38, 50)

Hair is an outgrowing of our skin. All mammals have hair in some form or other, from fur to wool to bristles or quills. Our hair begins to form even before we are born, while we are still in the uterus. It is strongly affected by heredity and is usually linked to our particular ethnic background. Each hair carries the unique genetic information of our DNA, and each person's hair is different from the hair on anyone else's head.

Our hair grows from tiny follicles in the skin where the root of each hair is located, and each root in turn has a small muscle attached to it which is activated when our hair 'stands on end' in an unusual situation. Most people's hair will turn gray as they age, as some of the pigment is lost from the hair shaft.

Hair is an important way for most individuals to express themselves. Think of the varieties of length and shape of hairstyles, of colorings — both natural and artificial — of decorations and wigs and hairpieces, both ones that you have seen and those throughout various parts of the world and of history. Women are often more concerned about the appearance of their hair than men — but not always.

Hair is a wonderful, glorious part of our bodies, both practical and decorative — and an amazing gift from God. If you had no guess how many hairs you and — even just on your head — what would you say? Each of them is a part of us and part of the person uniquely loved by God.

It is easy for most of us to take the gift of hair for granted. Although loss of hair or baldness may be a result of aging for some men (and occasionally women), it can also be a distressing effect of certain illnesses, especially those with high fevers, and of treatments for some illnesses such as radiation or chemotherapy for cancer. Who do I know who is facing or has faced this prospect? Can I visit them or drop them a note?

God who knows every hair on our heads, please bless all cancer patients and others and others experiencing a loss of hair, as well as those facing other challenges of aging besides graying hair. Please bless all those barbers and hairstylists who work hard every day to keep our hair looking its best, and thank you for the gift of hair, its wonderful variety and its beauty. When I comb or brush my hair, help me to remember how completely you love me. Amen.

Kathleen Finley in Savoring God