The Smile of Faith

Faithful readers will recall I have written about smiles from time to time. It’s a topic that fascinates me –  I try to learn as much about as I can about smiles.

When I’m shooting portraits, I’m usually aiming for a smile. “Say Cheese!” doesn’t cut it – it just leads to that teeth-clenching, tense fake smile.   With children, I’ll often make a goofy face or say something silly. With adults, one of my tricks is to ask them to remember a happy experience from their childhood.  Just about every time, a broad smile pops out immediately. I’ve learned to be ready to hit the shutter button.

I wanted to pass along this short reflection, written by David Anderson, Rector of Saint Luke’s Parish, my church in Darien, CT.

The Smile of Faith

I read this week that a typical small child smiles six hundred times a day, and old men smile two and a half times a day. That tells you all you need to know about the course of human life.

 As we get older, we get more “serious.” I put that in quotes, because mostly we’re not getting really serious about life—in which case we’d be smiling more like six hundred times a day—we’re just getting sourer and sourer. Life hasn’t worked out like we planned. Things have gone wrong. We can barely eke out two and half smiles a day.

 We can’t smile, we can’t laugh when it all depends on us and we have to manage it all, keep it all going, “make it happen.” We can’t smile until we trust, relax a little, let it be. That’s the whole message of the gospel: God has everything under control . . . so you don’t have to.

 I could talk more about laughter, or just give you a reason right now to do it. So here’s one I heard recently.

 An elderly woman walked into the local country church. The friendly usher greeted her at the door and helped her up the flight of steps. “Where would you like to sit?” he asked politely.

“The front row, please.” She answered.

“You really don’t want to do that,” the usher said. “The pastor is really boring.”

“Do you happen to know who I am?” the woman inquired.

“No.” He said.

“I’m the pastor’s mother,” she said indignantly.

“Well,” replied the usher, “do you happen to know who I am?”

“No.” she said.

“Good.” he answered.


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January 2011
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