Shaving as Slow Spirituality

I don’t really know why I felt like I needed to change. Perhaps I’m just susceptible to advertising. But I was running out of cartridge refills for my shaving razor, and options started bombarding my mind.

I could join the Dollar Shave Club. Why? Because it’s relatively cheap and I always forget to get new cartridges, and I really don’t care about shaving–so I could not care, someone else could care on my behalf, and razors would just show up.

But in the back of my mind, I knew that the really cool kids were doing something else. They were “wet shaving.” They were using something called a “double edged safety razor” that seemed to me anything but safe. Merkur 38C

And I always wanted to be one of the really cool kids.

So now I am in the 10+ minute per day shave club. When the two roads diverged in the yellow wood, I chose heightened attention rather than outsourcing concern for my shave.

There is a whole experience involved here: not only the fearful blade of the double-edged safety razor, but also the badger-hair brush creating shaving foam from a block of shaving soap.

And the experience must be repeated. Not just the next day, but three times in succession. Talk to anyone who uses a double-edged safety razor: you do three passes of lather and shave.

And, strangely, I begin to care.

Not just to care in the moment–something absolutely essential as you take an exposed blade to your face. But to care more generally about my shaven face. To care about what my state of being clean-shaven communicates in contrast to my default mode of lackadaisical disinterest.

In the slow business of shaving, I’ve found myself falling in with a broader theme of my life: slowing down.

(As evidence of my slowness, behold the eight years it took me from the time I read Andy Crouch’s article until the time I adopted his shaving practice! But I digress…)

In a fast-everything society, we prize speed. I like speed. I like to act quickly, to speak quickly. The spiritual discipline I have been striving toward for the past two years is to embrace slowness.

I do contemplative prayer, no words, to slow down my mind enough to listen. To remind myself that I don’t have to say everything that comes into my head.

My blogging has been turned off, and only restored at a trickle, to remind me that I don’t need to tell the world every thought that comes into my head.

So I sit. To be. To listen. To shave.

Fast food presents the same problem as the fast shave: not taking time to do it feeds a lack of concern about what it is, which in turns feeds the desire to get it over quickly.

Taking time and caring go hand in hand. They each feed the other.

There is a depth of being that we cannot attain by quickly devouring everything in our way–every song, every book, every bit of knowledge. There is a depth of being that comes only from being slow.

There’s another word for that depth of being. It’s called “wisdom.”

The book of James encourages us to attain to it by being slow. Yes, we should be quick to listen, but slow to speak.

There is an important place for slow.

I embrace that reality in the 10 minute ritual that is my morning shave. No, don’t think I’ve gone a day, yet, without cutting myself.

It looks like wisdom lies yet in my future.

(Update: I changed the link on the Andy Crouch article to one found freely available on his own website: http://andy-crouch.com/articles/best_a_man_can_get)

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