A glad heart makes a happy face – Proverbs 15:13
It was some years ago but the unexpected incident is still fresh in my memory. A colleague and I were going for a cup of coffee through the busy lanes of the overcrowded market that Nehru Place has become. Suddenly out of nowhere I see this little angel: a small boy holding his father’s hand trying to keep up with him as the dad engaged in a conversation with a friend. The small chap could not have been more than 5 years old. At the same moment both of us looked at each other, eye to eye and instinctively I smiled. He kept looking at me for a couple of seconds and then gave me the biggest smile that brightened this day for me. His smile was like a glimpse of heaven, God’s graciousness, and has stuck with me even after all these years. All I could say was, “God bless you.” And I said that again and again. My colleague noticed it too and was visibly touched as well.
Normally this is not how we greet people. Indians generally are not known to acknowledge people as much as our western counterparts do and even when they do it, it is more out of social habit than this splendid out of the heart event that really made my day. According to my experiences with adults in India, a greeting is often returned sheepishly, because they never thought they would get greeted in the first place. Some friends that have turned strangers are now experts in looking past through you, as if you were made of glass, which gives them the excuse of not returning the greeting at all. People do not look for engaging with each other it seems and the more life goes busy in cities, the more this syndrome gets exhibited. I was with a group of people day before yesterday and more than half of the group were conversing with each other with eyes and fingers firmly on their smartphones. I have been guilty of this more than once.
But this boy smiled and smile he did from his heart and it made my day. Wonder why did he smile at a total stranger? Someone just passing him by, someone he would probably never see again. I think it was because this young fellow was secure. Remember, he was holding the hands of his father. He was secure in the knowledge that he was loved, accepted and taken care of and that his father would never let anything happen to him. Out of that security came eyes that saw the world as a friendly place. One may always say, that the child was naïve because he is a child and we, as we grow, become aware and hence mature (sceptical). I think however, that we become more insecure and call it awareness. As we grow, we are taught to compete (especially in India), and made to remember that there is a world out there that is out to get us. Add to it the tangled web of relationships that we live in. As we grow, we find people are not perfect, not even our families and may be it brings insecurity that slowly raises our defences and cuts out openness. But as I discovered that day: secure people smile.
And Oh the security of the love of God! How wonderful to know that we are loved despite ourselves, and that our future is secure because of what Jesus did for us; That no matter what happens, God won’t let go and he will always accept, pardon, cleanse, relieve. He is Holy Love.
This should make us smile, more often than we probably do and what better occasion to smile more often than lent. After all God also does not want us to go through our fasts with a long face appearing killjoys personified. We should embrace this world resting in the security of God’s love and promises as we fix our thoughts on him this lent. A godly smile would radiate the presence and peace of God in us and touch people.
Smile and the world will smile back. You never know whose day would be special just because you chose to smile.
Rev. Vijayesh Lal