Smile Jesus’ Love Through

A few days spent roaming about on behalf of the monastery may have addled my wits, or maybe I’m just getting sentimental (not a quality usually associated with me), but I woke up this morning thinking about smiles, the kind that use 22 muscles on the human face, or whatever.

Smiles communicate so much and yet so little. We have a whole vocabulary to suggest their various shades of meaning, from appeasing through supercilious to warm or even zany. Smiles which don’t reach the eyes or are inconsistent with the words being spoken trouble us greatly. By contrast, a smile from someone we love is treasured in the memory. Sometimes the smiles of strangers are, too. I remember one hot summer’s evening long ago when I was working at the Bodleian and thanked a very tired-looking librarian for the book she had just got me: the brilliance of her smile has remained with me as a reminder that even a simple ‘thank you’ can be just what someone needs to hear — or maybe the smile was just what I needed to receive.

You can’t force a smile. Those gruesome photographs splattered all over the web showing faces with hugely improbable smiles are testimony to that. A smile has to start from the inside and work its way out. ‘Smiling through’ isn’t an idle phrase, for use only in hard times. If eyes are the mirror of the soul, surely a smile is too? So, please don’t start a National Smile Day (there probably already is one); please don’t start contorting your face into a huge rictus every time you meet someone; just spend some time ensuring that what is inside is worth displaying. That is more challenging than may appear, and certainly not likely to appeal to sentimentalists. ‘Smile, Jesus loves you’, no. Smile Jesus’ love through, yes.


5 thoughts on “Smile Jesus’ Love Through”

  1. I have an abiding memory of coming out of a bookshop and coming face to face wit a Big Issue seller. I said to him “I’m sorry, I already have one” to which he replied “Never mind love, the smile was nice”.

  2. A lovely meditation. My third return to the blog today to contemplate and to digest a little more. Some days this blog space is a prayerful place, the oratory extended, it seems. I like that.

    “Smile Jesus’ love through, yes.” Yes. This formulation makes all the difference.

    “just spend some time ensuring that what is inside is worth displaying.”

    Being authentically loving, reflecting the love of Christ, being the love of Christ to others, requires deep inner reform. Re-forming self into image of God. The image of God in a smile. A life time of practice.

    Lately I’ve become aware how I look outward to spiritual goals, virtues to acquire, and such, loving God with all my heart, and see these as desirable. Trying to be virtuous, trying to love God with all my heart, ‘thinking’ and ‘desiring’ I am and do, is not yet the real thing. I am still at the very, very beginning. By the g race of God, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I do pray to know how to truly love.

  3. Smiling, I have read, is genetic: wired into us, instead of learned by mimicry. I think that’s true, because one of the loveliest smiles I’ve ever seen was on the face of a co-worker who’s been blind from birth. Talking with him is a little disconcerting, because he has no body language – no head nods or hand gestures or shrugs to suggest mood. But his smile is lovely, always sincere and spontaneous: being blind, he never learned to fake it. I’m not saying this to advocate blindness; rather, that there is much to be said for behaving sincerely, without regard to how one’s acts manipulate others.

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