Mother Teresa of Calcutta was canonized yesterday, and as I have watched the many pictures of her in social media feeds, on magazine covers and in newspapers, I’m struck anew by her smile.
Her smile is not a superficial turning up of the corners of her mouth, like so many smiles are in this photo-op culture of ours. Her smile radiates joy and shines light on whomever falls within its radius.
Oh that smile! It speaks volumes.
An easy way to show love
Sometimes (often!) I get discouraged with my own sinfulness and how far away I am from my desire to love people and to live a holy life. I wonder if I am I doing anything worthwhile for God? Is my life making a difference in this world?
Then I read some of the things Mother Teresa said and realize again the power of small things done well out love for God. “I alone cannot change the world,” she told us, “but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
In learning to love people better, Mother Teresa thought a good place to start was with smiling:
Every time you smile at someone it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.
Let us always greet each other with a smile for the smile is the beginning of love.
A smile changes things
The other day I was in the checkout line at the grocery store. The woman in front of me buying her groceries was being rude and demanding, and the cashier was struggling to remain polite and professional. After the customer left in a huff, I approached and the cashier mechanically asked, “Did you find everything you needed?”
She looked exhausted, and I asked, “Tough day?” Startled, she quickly glanced up, and I smiled at her in understanding. Instantly her shoulders relaxed and her face softened. Some of the stress left her body, and we had a nice conversation. Handing me my change, she smiled back at me and now seemed more composed as she turned to help the next customer.
My act of smiling did not have an earthshaking impact on the world at large, but it did make a slight difference in this woman’s day. And who knows where those tiny ripples headed off to.
Do you worry that you’re not doing enough to spread the Gospel? That you’re not doing your part to change the world? That you’re not making much of a difference?
Mother Teresa would tell us to start smiling more.
Remember, peace begins with a smile.