“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” (John 13:34 NLT)
If there is one thing I have missed the most during this last year of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been seeing other people’s smiles. When every face has a mask on it you may be safer in the health of your body but you start to feel sicker in the health of your soul. Over the months I have started to notice more the sparkle in the eyes, the lilt in the voice, and the gentle lifting of the mask when people smile at me. Still, it isn’t quite the same.
I have always cherished every smile like a treasure. Growing up my Mom’s smile added joy to my days. And I am so happy that it lives on today in the faces of my children. My Nana’s smile always had a happy “Hello!” to go along with it. My Dad’s smile was rarer but I always loved seeing it whenever he laughed.
Over the years I also learned a lot about smiles. I read once that “We don’t smile because we are happy. We are happy because we smile.” I also read that “I have never seen a smiling face that wasn’t beautiful.” And I realized that both of these things were true. I remember most, though, something I once heard from a red headed, jovial, laughing, Irish priest whose smile was contagious. He said: “If God didn’t want us to be happy then why does smiling feel so darned good and frowning feel so darned bad?”
It doesn’t matter then if you are wearing a mask or not. It doesn’t matter if your teeth are white or yellow, many or few, or missing altogether. Show them your smile. Smiles lift our spirits. Smiles share our love. Smiles spread our joy. Smiles shine our light. Smiles warm our hearts. Smiles calm our souls. Smiles make the world a better place. One of the greatest, kindest, most helpful, most giving, and most loving things you can do in this life is give another your smile. Keep smiling then. And know that God is smiling down on you.
Joseph J. Mazzella