Never underestimate a smile.
One heart-felt smile directed at a soul
Can lift the fog of sadness, shift the weight of worry,
Release the mind from tension that was siphoning its strength,
And help the wounded spirit become whole.
I haven’t had much time or opportunity to blog since the first of the year, so I’m going to jump into this third week full steam ahead with Cee’s ‘Share Your World’ post. Hop over to her blog and get the details if you’d like to take part in the fun. It’s a great way to get to know some of the other wonderful people in the WordPress family.
Question # 1: What is your favorite piece of art? (It doesn’t have to be famous.)
My favorite piece of art is a marquetry picture my father created for me showing Jesus Christ standing at the front of a boat in the midst of the storm, stilling the storm. Dad used so many different kinds of wood in the piece, and if you’re familiar with marquetry, you know that none of the wood is painted. It is left in its original shading, and it’s the different colors of the wood itself that gives the picture its color.
He made it some 30 plus years ago, and it still hangs in my living room for everyone to see. It has faded a little over the years, but I’d rather have it the way it is than to hide it away to keep it from fading and not share it with others who can be encouraged by it.
Question # 2: What made you smile today?
When I looked out my door at about 5:30 this evening, and saw the clouds with the red sunset reflecting off of them, I immediately smiled and told the Lord He had done a good job again. I didn’t get a picture of those clouds, but I’ll include a picture that I took previously of some other clouds in a similar state.
Question # 3: Which place do you recommend as a “must see”?
Definitely the Smoky Mountains. You can see this beautiful section of the Appalachian mountains from a number of different states in the southeaster U. S. And even a dozen pictures could never do them justice or show you their complete beauty, because every view from every direction at every elevation on every different day is unique.
Question # 4: Finish this sentence: “When I was young, I used to ….”
When I was young — really, really young — I used to think kindergarten was a cemetery. When I was 5 and 6 years old, I was thrilled with the idea of education. I read a lot and I wrote a lot. In fact, I asked my mom and dad to show me cursive letters and taught myself to write in cursive before I started first grade.
But back then kindergarten was a new concept. It was just becoming popular with many school systems, and in our area, people began to talk about it because it was coming to our school. It didn’t get added to our town’s educational system before I started school, though, so I went straight into the first grade.
But I was fascinated by the concept of ‘little’ kids being taught before they got to first grade, and as I listened to people talk, I’d wonder just how it worked. I finally decided that I knew what it was all about. I had been to a very few cemeteries by that time, and I knew what a garden was. So I decided that kindergarten (note the similarity to the word “garden”) was a big place outside with all these stones spaced evenly around the grounds, and the teacher sat on a big stone to teach, while all the kids sat on smaller stones learning their lessons.
I pictured this type of scene many times as I contemplated this new phase of education, and I probably would have continued in my fantasy for a couple more years if it hadn’t been for having a younger sister. Kindergarten finally arrived in our town, and as my little sister prepared to take her place as one of the privileged 5-year-olds who got to enroll in this advanced educational experience, I mentioned to my parents that I understood what kindergarten was.
Well, you can imagine my surprise when they cleared things up. But I was also more than a little disappointed — because I had been pretty proud of myself to think I had figured out what this brand new educational program was all about. Occasionally now, when visiting a cemetery, I’ll think about those years, when I was so young — and so smart — and so hilariously wrong.
Bonus Question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to this week?
I’m very grateful for my wonderful 6′ 7″ friend, Kent. I have two round fluorescent lights on my kitchen ceiling, which is very, very high. They don’t usually go out at the same time, but this week, they did. I had to get them replaced immediately or have a dark kitchen.
My step stool won’t get me high enough, and I used to climb up on my kitchen table and do the job, but my table has a shaky leg right now, and I didn’t have time to wait for it to be repaired. So I called up my friend and asked him if he would come once to take the bulbs down (because I didn’t remember what size they were and had to take them with me to get the right size) and then come back again once I had the new ones.
He readily agreed and managed to come both times in one day to put up my new lights. Now my kitchen and I are bathed in glorious light once more. Even if my friend were not 6′ 7, he would be very tall in my eyes anyway.
This coming week, I am looking forward to getting my book Healing Is For You! onto the Amazon Kindle Store. I know there are so many people who need help from the Lord for their health, and I’m hoping that having my book available in e-book format will make it much easier and less expensive for them to get help through what they learn in the book.
Since I seem to be focusing on the subject of love during February, I can’t help but give some time to one unique aspect of how it comes – or fails to come – into our lives. No focus on the subject of love, in all it’s categories, could ever be quite complete if it did not include the concept of what love might have awaited us in different venues of life if we had made different choices along our way.
There is a theory espoused by some that there is actually an alternate experience of life that is running concurrently with the one we are aware of, and that if we could become aware of it as well, it would give us the experiences to which our alternate choices had opened the door. Of course, I realize that, according to the Word of God, that concept is not a reality, but I am still aware that had I made just one or two choices differently – even the choice of what street to walk down, or what restaurant to visit, or what time of day I went to the library – a hundred things in my life might be completely different.
The reality of this truth came home to me quite unexpectedly, and quite dramatically, one day a couple of years ago, while standing in a fast food restaurant. I’ve been fleetingly aware of other such experiences during my life, but this time, I was so touched by it, and my life so affected by it, that I immediately wrote it down and saved it, so that it would remain a part of who I am from that moment on. I share that experience with you now, and I hope you find it to be as much of a blessing as I do.
WHERE DID I MISS YOU?
I didn’t notice him as I entered the fast-food restaurant. His table was to my right as I entered the door. And he wasn’t in my line of vision as I stood in line at the counter, so I don’t know if he had noticed me as I came in or not. But as I carried my sack over to the end of the shelf where the napkins were located, I glanced up and met his eyes. It was for only the briefest second, because it was one of those situations where you know you’ve made contact, but you don’t know why and aren’t sure how to react. So you swiftly shift your eyes to the side, pretending to look at other things — as if you had just been letting your eyes sweep the area in general.
Why we do that, I don’t know. Maybe it’s a reaction only in those of us who have a measurable lack of self-confidence. Whatever the reason, though, I knew I had reacted that way when I really hadn’t wanted to do so.
But I felt the pull of his personality so strongly that I almost felt as if I’d insulted him by not smiling at him when our eyes had touched so fleetingly. Thinking it may have been just my imagination, I glanced his way again and found him looking at me again as well. But, again, I broke contact within mere seconds. And, once again, I was sorry. I now felt the pull of him so strongly that I knew I had to do something to connect with him, if only for one smile.
It was easier than I had expected, because at the table closest to his sat an old friend of mine. I usually tried to speak briefly to her whenever I saw her anywhere, so I decided I’d walk over to her table now, necessarily passing by his.
As I stepped past his table, my eyes still wouldn’t connect with his. So I just looked right at my friend and spoke. “How are you doing, Betty?”
“I’m doing fine. How are you?”
“I’m fine too. I’ll be even better after I eat this,” I added whimsically, holding up my sack. I glanced his way, and he was looking at me. He smiled. I smiled. He could hear every word I said clearly. I looked back to Betty, still holding my sack out in front of me. Then facing Betty, but letting my eyes drift in his direction, I focused on his left hand. He did have on a gold ring, but whether it was actually a wedding band or not I couldn’t tell. It was best if I didn’t know for sure anyway, but … disappointment pierced through me. It was a brief, stabbing feeling, and then sort of a dull resignation took its place.
But somehow, I just couldn’t quite let go of him yet. I held up my sack again – in Betty’s direction: “I don’t really need this … but … then again, I guess I do need it” was my next inane addition to the conversation. I glanced at him again, as if to include him in this “high-level” discussion. He understood. So I took advantage of that moment to look at him more closely.
There was nothing extraordinarily attractive about him. I mean he wasn’t the kind of man you’d naturally notice because he was gorgeous or was dressed in the height of fashion. His African-American complexion wasn’t ebony, but it was darker than brown. He had on a kind of knit cap that covered most of his short-cropped hair. His beard was mostly gray and extremely neat, but even though the beard was gray, the face was young. He was obviously overweight. Not fat, but certainly not sporting the kind of physique that normally caught a woman’s attention.
But it was his eyes and his smile. Or maybe it was his smile and his eyes. It doesn’t matter which, because his smile was so warm and genuine that it filled his eyes as well as his mouth. And it was that smile that made him really attractive — not the physical smile — the part of it that came from his soul. It was his soul that was in his eyes, and there was an invitation there: “I could sit and talk to you and understand you,” it said. “And you would understand me. We’d be friends.”
By that time (barely seconds) Betty was responding to my convoluted statement about the need for food, and she answered, “Yeah … you have to eat to live.” Brilliant answer!
“Right,” I said, looking back at my new friend. His smile was even sweeter — and even more inviting. He knew I wouldn’t — and couldn’t — sit down and talk to him. Why not? Because we had no connector. We had no tiny moment from our past that could have provided even the thinnest thread of oneness. We had just this one minuscule moment — taken out of time — to recognize, to dream, to wish. But he let me know that he had enjoyed talking to me vicariously and hoped that I had felt the same.
I smiled at him as generously as I knew how, hoping my message was in my own eyes: “I wish things were different. I wish I could sit down at your table and get to know you. Yes, we’d be friends; I’m sure of it. … Have a good day. Have a good life. … Bye.”
I walked out the door — sadder than when I’d walked in — poorer because of knowing there was a rich friendship out there that I would never own. Where in my life did I choose a path that put me in the position of never meeting him until today? Where did I miss finding him at a time when I could have known him, owned him as a friend, and had my life woven in with his? I wish I knew. No … I wish I’d known then … and I would have chosen differently.
© Sandra Conner 2009
Photo: © Brenda Calvert, 2011