Oh a smile has so many stories to tell. My dad’s grin was, by far, full of tales and light.
My father’s smile . . . remarkable but humble. His teeth were oddly strong, but weathered by time and chewing tobacco. His eyes always twinkled in unison with his grin—a mischievous, dancing smirk. When more serene, he merely let the creases gather at the edges and cast a friendly glow of inviting grace.
In league with his smile was his wit. It ebbed forth like the steady percussion of feet on a hardwood floor. It lashed in banter—never too harsh or too scathing. It elicited groans of, “Ooooh dad,” and playful eye rolls from us kids more times than I can count. In awe at the stealthy backdoor approaches and barrage of jest, I listened. I laughed. I often replayed it in my mind . . . as I do now.
Look around to your friends, family and even yourself. Make note of that smile, and see how you can make it do somersaults with giggles and witty exercise.
With the recent addition of my youngest nephew, I have seen a resurrection of focus in my family. Everyone is transfixed on under 10 pounds of delightful, wriggling baby. Every sound, every pose and definitely every smile.
Seeing the innocent curve of his lips, I realized in a skipped heartbeat how much lift a smile can have in the buoyancy of hope. So, I spent the last week paying close attention to people’s smiles. From rows of gleaming white to scattered toddler chompers (potentially the sharpest objects on the planet in the presence of fingers), I witnessed light flash and burst forth. I also saw the tired, this-is-my-last-ounce-of-energy grief smile doing its best to cloak pain. And, I glimpsed the nervous, you-make-my-pulse-race smile between a sweet couple a few seats over.
The smile that caught my breath and made me feel simultaneously blessed and concerned was the brief smile of gratitude from a spiritually troubled sister who craved one moment of comfort amidst a world of struggle.
When words fail to evoke the heart’s sentiment, when pain clouds your path and when darkness flirts at your door, hope stands nearby with a smile just for you. A smile, simple and natural, given freely to a stranger can transform a day. A smile, crinkly or broad, given suddenly to a coworker can diffuse a meeting. A smile, heartfelt and fun, given directly to a friend can inspire a grand smile in return.
Not every day is easy. Not every day is jubilant. But there is a hopeful high that comes from sharing a smile and receiving one in return. So, smile because you can. Smile as often as possible. Smile from your heart to your eyes. Hope is a smile away.