"They shall repair the devastations of many generations." - Isaiah 61:4
When I was a child head lice got a kid stigmatized. A classmate would be gone for a couple of days and then come back, shorn and sheepish, whispers everywhere, "Lice!"
Today head lice are the new normal. Not a month goes by that my wife and I don't get a form letter from our kids' grade-school, "Your child has been exposed . . ." Indeed, three blocks from our house there is a classy, upscale salon devoted to nothing but nit-picking.
The stigma must still exist. I hesitate to say this. Last summer our children became clients of the place. When I dropped them off I made a lame joke to the receptionist, ran my hand through my thinning hair and said, "I hope I don't have them too." He replied straight-faced, "Don't worry. Dads never get lice. Moms do." He pointed toward a few women, sitting patiently as the nit-pickers did their work.
I didn't understand. "Why not?" He replied, "Moms get down on the floor and play. They cuddle. Their heads touch their kids' heads. The lice climb in."
I felt so ashamed to be lice free.
How many sons have been hurt by distant fathers who sat in easy chairs, and read the paper while we rolled Matchbox cars across the carpet, hoping to be noticed? I was.
How many daughters will be hurt by distant fathers, buried in our smart phones ignoring little dancers as they twirl and play around us? Mine will be.
If you're a father you should endeavor to get head lice. After all, it's the little things that mean the most.
Dear God, let the lice do their part and give us the grace to do ours. Amen.
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL.