Tuesday, August 14, 2012
The Cold Shower
The outdoor heat yesterday was sweltering enough, but my hot shower felt like I was trying to boil myself to mush. I worked out the kinks in my shoulders, rinsed my hair and tried to wash away the thoughts and troubles of the day shift before heading into my night shift. At the last minute, I stepped back in and turned the water back on, this time to cold. I once heard that you should finish your hair rinse with lukewarm water to close the cuticles and make it shinier. My hair currently needs all the help it can get, but cold felt better than lukewarm. Not freezing cold, but that coolness that you can stay in for longer than you probably have time for on a busy blazing hot work day.
I suddenly found myself going back to memories of a much different cleansing in a much different place. Almost 30 years ago I took this shower - cold, refreshing, and incredibly lovely. It was the first real shower I had taken all summer. We started that season with less than ideal large group baths in a lake that we were told held small alligators. Bathing with strangers in what was likely a Florida swamp in retrospect, turned into the occasional ocean bath, but mostly river baths in Belize - eating mangos and pineapples and letting the juice flow down our faces before bringing the water up with cupped hands to cleanse us. There is something to be said for a mango eating bath time, but that shower - oh boy - that shower was amazing.
After long weeks of hard work and the freedom you get from getting dirty, being dirty and staying dirty, you come upon a shower shack right on the ocean and you hop in and realize what you've been missing. Not sure whether to look up and out at the incredible ocean view or down in amazement at how much dirt was leaving my skin in each small rivulet of cool water running down to my feet, I closed my eyes and let that water gently flow over my head and face.
It is these moments, these simple bits of time, that can leave an imprint on us that lasts almost three decades - stuck in our brain somewhere until just the right time to surface and remind us that it's not about expensive shampoos and regularly scheduled haircuts and why I have to work nights, but about how much we have to be thankful for in the simplest things that God gives us - the taste of a mango drip on our chin that we flick away with our tongue, the laughter of teenage girls trying to wash their hair in the river, and that amazing rustic shower on a beach in Mexico. There are all kinds of dirt that can get washed away in a shower like that, even without soap or shampoo.
Posted by A Prelude To... at 9:09 AM