This story is one of a series of stories that begin with the title “Out of the Mouths of Babes.” These stories celebrate the Wisdom of God that can be ours when we listen to and reflect on the words that lead to worship and thanksgiving, words spoken by children. For, as Psalm 8:2-3 tells us, “O Lord, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth! I will sing of your majesty above the heavens with the mouths of babes and infants...”
Of special note, this story has been graciously shared for this series by an elementary teacher. If you have an “Out of the Mouths of Babes” story that you would like to share, please don’t hesitate to share it in the Comment section! (Unless you state otherwise, I will assume that by sharing your story in a Comment, it is fine for me to share your story as part of this series.)
….Here, then, is the teacher’s story…
Stationed in the hallway, the teacher watched as a small group of students headed toward her classroom. Included in the group was a child who had a penchant for getting into trouble.
“Here come some of my favorite people!” the teacher exclaimed, accompanying her words with an enthusiastic smile.
Unlike his companions, the child with a “troublemaker” reputation hesitated returning the teacher’s greeting. Rather, he looked around, and then bluntly questioned, “Even me?!”
“Yes! Of course!” the teacher said, joyfully smiling and playfully laughing.
With that reassurance, the child responded with a big smile of his own.
….And I admit that this beautiful story brought a big smile to my face, too!
..In addition to sharing the story, the teacher shared her insights based on this school day episode:
“A smile is a powerful thing! As a teacher, I love how smiling can transform a child’s day – especially the so-called “troublemaker’s” day. That child isn’t always used to being smiled at, and he/she deserves it, too. Being warmly smiled at is totally transformative.
“Imagine if God withheld His smiling countenance when we are “troublemakers.” Instead, He smiles down upon us all the time with His grace. We need to do the same—we need to share a welcoming, affirming smile with others—especially with our children!”
The teacher’s reflection reminded me of one of my most favorite verses in all of Sacred Scripture. I love to give and to receive this benediction:
“The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!” (Numbers 6:24-26)
In her reflection, the teacher noted that smiling is transformative. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (soon to be Saint Teresa of Calcutta) said many things about smiling. One of her popular quotes is this instruction-invitation:
“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”
And it is love—especially God’s Love, as the teacher alluded to—that our smiles reflect, and it is that love that transforms.
What have we got to lose? Let us give away our warm, sincere, welcoming smiles—especially to those who—like the child in the story--might feel less worthy or unworthy of our smiles. Let us remember what Jesus tells us:
“Freely you received, freely give.” (Matt. 10:8)
As the teacher said, God smiles on us with His Grace, freely given. Let us pass His smile along to others.
Especially in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, surely we can comfort the grieving and encourage the doubtful by smiling; that makes smiling a beautiful work of mercy.
When have you received or given a smile in the Name of Christ—a smile that truly was transformative; a smile that you know had a great impact on your life? Please share your experience—either in the Comment section or in an article of your own.
May God bless you! Thank you.