I've been told that I have a beautiful smile, one that lights up a room. I used to be quite embarrassed but I have come to embrace it as well as other things about my physical appearance over the years, but that is for another post. I have always been a person who tries to smile as often as I can. Not in in a plastic, creepy way that makes people wonder if the lights are on upstairs. But in a genuine and authentic way that says, "hello" or "you're special" without me having to utter a sound. I also read once that frowning and furrowing your brow will give you wrinkles very early in life and I'm not trying to mess up these perfectly good genes that I've been blessed with. So, I usually choose to smile more often that not.
Last month I was in the airport retuning home from three days in San Antonio. The travel was the week after Thanksgiving and it was a pretty intense trip. I was exhausted. My evening flight home had been delayed, then we boarded and didn't take off for another 45 minutes, so it was quite late when I finally landed and began making my way from the gate to the baggage area. I had to catch a tram to the baggage area and wouldn't you know it-- the tram was halted almost as soon as it began to move; I was waiting again. Just as I was about to grumble and complain to myself I glanced at an older woman. She looked weary and tired. She appeared to be gathering her arms and her small bag as tightly as she could into her lap. She was looking down and seemed to want to make herself invisible. I looked closer and saw two large scars on her face. My heart ached just a little. I became intrigued by this stranger and that is so unusual for me. I began to pray silently with my gaze remaining intent upon her. I imagined her life, a hard one. Perhaps she immigrated/escaped to America from a treacherous life in foreign land. Her hands were hard-working hands and her clothing was worn. Her bag was a clear plastic one and then I realized that she was probably employed at the airport. Was this the life she had hoped for? She had the look of someone merely existing.
The tram began to move again and all I could think about was this woman. I knew the ride would soon end and I wanted to do something, say something, but what? So I continued to pray and stare, yes I was staring at this stranger (again so unlike me). She shifted her weight and caught my gaze. At first she quickly looked away but then back at me and held eye contact. There was my chance: I smiled. She looked over her shoulder and back at me with my smile still upon my face. I saw a flicker of something: hope, acknowledgement, connectedness. She looked as though she were surprised, like no one ever notices her, like she didn't matter. But for that moment she did matter. She gave me what I would say was counts as smile in return though she barely turned the corners of her mouth up, like it didn't happen very much. Still, I hoped my smile was yelling to her, "you are beautiful, you do matter, you are loved."
I would like to encourage anyone reading this to choose to spread joy and hope whenever you have the opportunity. Most of us are so extremely blessed that anything we could complain about would seem silly to 90% of the rest of the world's population. The week that I encountered the woman on the tram I literally did a happy dance because I found great eyeliner at Sephora. I mean, sub par eyeliner was an issue for me. C'mon man!! So iSmile every chance that I get. I offer the world the light that is on the inside of me. iSmile because it can instantly remove barriers and defuse situations. iSmile at most people but particularly those who folks frown at because I am always cognizant that if it were not for the grace and mercy of God I would be in their same situation.