Every Easter for last 10 years or so, I grow my beard out. I stop shaving on Ash Wednesday and let it run wild until after sun down on the Thursday before Good Friday. Every year I get the whole, “you’re giving up shaving for lent? Hahaha, I should do that!” I smile and falsely admire how quipy they are. If you’re being quipy, then you don’t really care about why I’m doing this. What you really care about is how much of a smarty pants you look like by pointing out the silliness of considering growing my beard as an act of sacrifice. Now that I have a platform where I can tell this story, I figured this would be a good day to do that.
This all started, as I said a little over 10 years ago, when I was going through RCIA. At that time I had decided to just let my beard go for first time in my life. I had really let go too. It was a monster. As I approached Good Friday, and Confirmation/First Communion, I wanted an external representation of what I was experiencing internally. I felt like I was becoming someone new. The old me was dying and the new me was shining. So, I shaved my beard to show that I wasn’t that person anymore.
I’ve tried to add a bunch of Biblical meaning to it, but it hasn’t stuck. I thought of it as a period of being a Nazarite, but I would drink wine, so that didn’t work. Then I said it was like accepting shame as David’s messengers experienced, but that just didn’t really fit as I grew out of basing my relationship with God on shame and guilt. So, I have just come to accept that this something that I do for me.
So, what does it mean for me?
Having a beard, really isn’t torture. But, having a mustache sucks a lot. Also, my wife hates it, so there is an element of sacrifice there. But, joking aside, it is a way for me to express externally what Easter means to me internally. The day of greatest mourning begins when Jesus was betrayed, arrested, and executed. I shave my face to show the death of my old self and stop eating solid food. This fast pushes me to prayer and reliance on the power of God. After the Easter vigil, the official celebration of Christ’s resurrection, I eat and begin the journey anew. Christ’s resurrection is my new life.
I know that growing and shaving a beard is kind of a silly religious tradition, but it’s just one of those things that’s important to me. I don’t ask others to participate, it’s just for me and God.
Now you know the story of the Easter beard.
***This year I had a bit of fun and told the girls at Sports Clips that they could do whatever they wanted to my beard since I was cutting if off. A couple of pics are below, but you’re going to want to watch the Instagram story for sure.