Your Smile, Your Face, Your words

This morning I received an email from Marc and Angel Hack Life,, a wonderful blog to which I subscribe and I hope you will as well.

That message said this is for YOU, straight to you. Others will be confused. They will think it is for them, but this is for you. It was indeed for me. Straight to me. It mentioned knowing that my smile makes a difference.

This has been a week of such messages to me from the Universe, from Life.
On Sunday I served Chalice at church. At some point I thought to myself, why are you smiling like this? Perhaps it is not appropriate. But I couldn’t stop smiling. I was so happy to be there, to be doing that thing at that moment, to not be in pain or dragging an oxygen tank (which would, I think, have eliminated me from serving). I remembered the first time I served, what pain I was in, a brace on my back, a brace on my knee.  I remembered the years I carried an oxygen tank in zany striped “cow” bags, meant for little girls’ overnight bags, after five days in critical care for multiple bilateral pulmonary emboli.  It is easy in the everyday fray of life to forget, when times are better, that indeed they are better. Easy to lose our sense of gratitude.
Later this week a woman I did not recognize approached me and said, “I want to tell you how much joy your smile brings to me when you serve Chalice. It makes such a difference in how I experience the service.” I was struck by how little we know the difference our presence makes in the world, how such small things as a smile can touch a stranger.
Then as I was teaching painting this week, a man who looked familiar to me entered and skirted the studio to retrieve something. As he left, I greeted him and he introduced himself. “You won’t remember this,” he said,” but you changed everything for me.” True, I did not remember and I was quite puzzled. “I took a class from you and you said to me, ‘I think you need to put words in your painting.’ Now I ‘paint’ with words, make portraits with words. I have paintings in the show upstairs made of words. I don’t know how you knew that,” he said, “but it changed everything.” True I did not remember, until I went to search out his paintings. And then I recognized the particular marks that had seemed to want to be words. And there they were. So powerful.
How little we know the difference our lives make, our smile makes, our simple observations make. I have a photograph hanging in a bedroom—a fallen leaf caught in a bare branch, with the caption: Everything Makes a Difference. Indeed it does. A smile, a word, a touch: more difference than most of us may ever know.
If we are lucky enough, someone may tell us now and then. Like a treasure we should embrace. But most of us won’t. We will forget the difference we are not aware that we make. But, fortunately, that doesn’t keep us from making that difference.
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