Tales from the barbershop

barber-shopThere was a barber in a small town. One day he’s sitting in his barbershop and a man walks in wearing a pair of sandals, and a long brown robe with a hood. The man sits down in the barber’s chair. “Excuse me,” says the barber. “I was wondering: why are you dressed like that?”

“Well,” says the man. “I’m a Franciscan friar. I’m here to help my brother Franciscans start a soup kitchen in town.”

And the barber says, “The Franciscans? Oh, I love the Franciscans! I love the story of St. Francis of Assisi, and I so love all the work you do for the poor, and for peace, and for the environment. And it’s just great that the Franciscans live so simply! You guys are wonderful! This haircut is free!”

And the Franciscan says, “Oh no, no, no. We live simply and take a vow of poverty, but I have some money for a haircut. Please let me pay you.”

“Oh no,” says the barber. “I insist. This haircut is free!” So the Franciscan thanks him, gives him a blessing and leaves.

The next day the barber comes to his shop and on the doorstep to the barbershop, there is a surprise waiting for him. On the doorstep is a big basket filled with wildflowers, along with a thank-you note from the Franciscan.

That same day another man walks into the barber’s shop wearing a long white robe with a black scapular over it. He sits down in the barber’s chair and the barber says, “Excuse me, but why are you dressed like that?”

And the man says, “Well, I’m a Trappist monk. I’m in town to visit a doctor and I thought I would come in for a haircut.”

And the barber says, “Oh I love the Trappists! You know, I’ve read all of Thomas Merton’s books, and I so admire the way that your lives are so contemplative and prayerful, and it makes me happy to know that you’re praying for all of us. You guys are wonderful! This haircut is free!”

The Trappist says, “Oh, no, no, no. Even though we live simply, I have money for a haircut. Please let me pay you.”

“Oh no,” says the barber. “This haircut is free.” So the Trappist thanks him, gives him a blessing and leaves.

The next day the barber comes to his shop and on his doorstep, there is a surprise waiting for him. A big basket full of cheeses and jams made by the Trappist abbey, along with a thank-you note from the Trappist.

That same day another man walks into the barbershop wearing a black suit and a clerical collar. After he sits down the barber says, “Excuse me, but why are you dressed like that?”

And the man says, “Yes. I’m a Jesuit priest. I’m in town for a theology conference.”

And the barber says, “Oh, I love the Jesuits! You know, my son went to Santa Clara and my daughter went to Loyola Marymount. I love Ignatian spirituality and I’ve been to the retreat house you have in town. You guys are great! This haircut is free!”

And the Jesuit says, “Oh no, no, no. I take a vow of poverty but I have enough money for a haircut.”

The barber says, “Oh no. This haircut is free.” So the Jesuit thanks him, gives him a blessing and is on his way.

And the next day the barber comes to his shop and on his doorstep, there is a surprise waiting for him: ten more Jesuits.


from Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ

 

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