My attempt at communication failed.
As I stood in line, I made a simple but profound gesture to the woman in line next to me. But then it hit me. My smile was invisible. Something that can so simply signify kindness in a polarized culture, can no longer “talk.”
Smiles convey humanity. They say “I see you.” When a child is acting out their frustrations and I empathize with the mother who feels the weight of judgement, I smile.
When I see a neighbor in the store and sense they are in a hurry and cannot converse, I smile.
When I dropped my daughter off at a community driver’s ed, and I saw a new friend of hers wave and smile, I cried. It spoke volumes into her narrative.
When I substitute teach, and I see my former students walking down the hallway, I smile.
Never did we realize the value of a smile until now. We share this place where we interact in bytes of real time. We underestimate the way a smile penetrates the heart. Without knowing our neighbor’s story, we love them. With a smile.
So we must find new ways of communicating “welcome.” Nadia Boltz Weber writes, “And that when my eyes brighten in a smile behind my mask as I thank the cashier may it be counted as passing the peace.”
Let us display the hand of the creator friends. We are image bearers after all. Nothing can keep us from “touching” others with God’s presence. May we show it through posture, eyes, action. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2 and live in love, as Christ loved us[a] and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1.
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