Joy Shining in Her Face

By Louita Clothier of Lamoni, Iowa, USA

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace…  Colossians 1:19–20

During the years my mother struggled with Alzheimer’s disease, I increasingly turned to my friend, Margaret, for deep talks. After Mom’s death, Margaret became my surrogate mother. Her infectious energy and constant sunny disposition brought joy to my heart. She personified the words in her favorite hymn, “My life flows on in endless song…How can I keep from singing?”

Eventually Margaret entered a nursing home, and I continued to spend time with her. One day as she slept, I studied the face of my dear friend. The crinkles in her face formed a permanent sunny smile, even while she slept. It was as if nature ran a beauty spa. Time gradually had sculpted Margaret’s face into an enduring expression of inner beauty. Those happy lines and wrinkles were her reward for eight decades of radiating inner joy to those around her.

I realized that in our later years our faces do not allow us to hide our lifelong outlook. Frowning produces permanent frown marks; smiling produces smile wrinkles. Margaret always showed interest in other people, and she communicated it with her face. Even as she grew increasingly weak, her entire face lit up when she was in a conversation.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, once said, “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Many people enter a room and say, “Here I am.” Margaret entered, and her face said, “Ah, there you are!”

I’m sure Margaret had reasons to be gloomy many times, but her smiling, enthusiastic habit energized herself and those around her. She had a face in which God would be pleased to dwell. Smile, your spirit is showing!

Prayer for Peace:

Smiling God, may we smile and reflect your peaceful Spirit.

Spiritual Practice for the Week: Making Responsible Choices

Each day this week prayerfully seek God’s guidance in your choices. Discernment invites us to orient our lives toward God and God’s vision for us and for creation. Begin by reviewing the responsibilities and opportunities in the day before you. Take these choices into prayer, asking God for wisdom and insight about what matters most. Offer yourself to God with the prayer of Teresa of Avila: “God, what do you want of me today?” Sit prayerfully with this question as you review the day again. Be aware of images, thoughts, names, or actions that come to you. Ask for blessing to live this day responsibly and compassionately in the spirit of Christ.        

Peace Covenant:

Today, God, I will reconcile all concerns in my life and make peace.

 

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