I sometimes think that if I could just grasp, seize, clutch, cradle, hold on to the smiles of friends, family, strangers, co-workers, my little 1-year-old niece, it would be like wrapping my arms, my days, around a bouquet of flowers or a bunch of balloons, and I would just float happily from moment to moment.
I see a photo of my niece smiling at bubbles rising above her into skies blue with burgeoning spring, and I feel like I've somehow cheated this sin-ridden world. Is it possible to take such delight in the fleeting face of another?
The grin of a stranger across the library makes me forget the editing before me and the chair beneath me. He smiled at me! And then he left, and I've never seen him again, but that doesn't matter. He didn't have to smile. I feel special because he did.
When my dad smiles, it is almost always accompanied by a laugh, or perhaps a song that has carried him away on a wave of voice, beat, and guitar strum. I could listen to his smiles all day long.
I surround myself with photos of friends because their smiles transcend time from that particularly joyful moment to now--be now happy or sad--to remind me that I was loved then and I am loved now.
I understand that life, in all honesty, cannot always be a bouquet full of smiles. Flowers wither and balloons pop. We need times of lament to grasp the depth of God's mercy and loving-kindness. But, as I sit here tonight, blubbering in all my Aunt-y sappiness at the pure joy my niece has brought my heart, I am thinking I'd like to try as often as I can to be a balloon for those around me. I am German, and sometimes my face forgets to lacheln, but if my smile can give someone a few steps of floating happiness, it is worth my effort.