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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

CLASS PROJECT: SMILE


The last class I had to take for my college degree was Sociology. The teacher was absolutely inspiring, with the qualities that I wish every human being had been graced with. Her last project of the term was called “Smile.” The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reactions. I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone anyway, so I thought this would be a piece of cake.


Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to a fast food restaurant one crisp March morning. It was just our way of sharing special time together. We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did.


I did not move an inch. A feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved. As I turned around, I smelled a horrible “dirty body” smell, and there standing behind me were two poor homeless men.


As I looked down at the short gentleman close to me, he was “smiling.” His beautiful sky-blue eyes were full of God’s Light as he searched for acceptance.


He said, “Good day,” as he counted the few coins he had been clutching. The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend. I realized the second man was mentally challenged and the blue-eyed gentleman was his guardian. I held back my tears as I stood there with them. The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted.


He said, “Coffee is all, Miss,” because that was all they could afford. If they wanted to sit in the restaurant and warm up, they had to buy something. He just wanted to be warm. Then I really felt it — the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue eyes. That is when I noticed all eyes in the restaurant were set on me, judging my every action. I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray.


I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue-eyed gentleman’s cold hand. He looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Thank you.”



I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, “I did not do this for you. God is here working through me to give you hope.”


I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son. When I sat down, my husband smiled at me and said, “That is why God gave you to me, Honey. To give me hope.”


We held hands for a moment and we knew that only because of the Grace that we had been given were we able to give.


That day showed me the pure Light of God’s sweet love.


I returned to college on the last evening of class with this story in hand. I turned in my “project” and the instructor read it. Then she looked up at me and said, “Can I share this?” I slowly nodded and she got the attention of the class.


She began to read and that is when I knew that all of us, as human beings and children of God, share this need to heal people and to be healed.


In my own way I had touched the people at the restaurant, my husband, son, instructor, and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night I spent as a college student. I graduated with one of the greatest lessons I would ever learn:


unconditional acceptance.


Don’t love things and use people,
But use things and love people.

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