Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Have a Coke and a...

Can't say I know much about God. And I guess that tracks since He/She/It is most known for being unknowable and all-knowing. My homespun, threadbare tapestry of Christian-Buddhist-Gaiast-Existentialist-agnosticism changes colors and shapes by the year, month, week, or day.

So I claim no specialized knowledge (about anything, really). But one thing that seems semi-solid is that if we are going to come to know God in any way, we meet Him (implied She/It) in the world and/or through people.

Smiles are instances, at times, that seem to me to be as direct an encounter as you can have. Our nephew Samuel, who has been through three heart surgeries at age two, has a truly transcendental smile. It can levitate the soles of your feet.

There are touchstone smiles in the congregation at the Easton Church of the Brethren--folks whose way and whose smiles light me up inside-out. One of the smiles guaranteed to transfer itself onto your face belonged to a man who passed away recently, it's one I miss seeing on Sundays. Another belongs to a man on crutches, who has taken some hard knocks but whose smile reveals love, humility, humor, and genuine joy to see and be with you, in about 1.6 seconds. A third to a man who gets out a pack of gum as soon as he sees our girls approaching, but who always waits for a nod from Robin or me before offering it to them. There are others,  but those are some standout smiles.

Divine smiles dwell at the Farmer's Market in Easton; at the Oxford Park and at the Scottish Highland Creamery; on the faces of the folks at Rise Up Coffee. This isn't a plug, mind you, more of a mental checklist of the places those kind of smiles seem to recur.

As has been documented here and elsewhere, I also have the annoying, small-town habit of saying hello or good morning to people I encounter while running. Folks who are out for a walk, run, bike, dog walk, or sitting on a bench. And the smiles that are returned often add energy to continue or finish a tough run.

There are those with smiles and laughs that reveal God, I think. I run into them almost daily and sometimes feel like I pinball bounce energy from them until I bounce into the next smile that takes my attention from the every day to some higher mode of feeling and being. It just requires me to look and be open and see it.


pnorthluskin said...

Two of my former, now-graduated students and I came up with a phrase "Hug the Smile" - one of the girls actually made me a bumper sticker in bright yellow with these words. It is tacked onto one of my boards at school and ALL of the students notice it. Amazing what both hugs and smiles can do for an individual and a community.

Beautifully written, Mike.

Kelly said...

ahh, divine smile. amen!

Michael Valliant said...

Many thanks to both! Good stuff