Some of us feel happy all the time and spill that happiness all around.
I don’t feel that.
But I do smile at people and say “Hi” to strangers by choice, not by effervescence. I’m grateful for effervescent people, I’m just not one. Warmth doesn’t bubble out of me; I try to offer it. I’m not faking being cheerful; I’m offering people what they deserve as Beloved of God.
Even smiling is complicated. Smiling at a woman I don’t know can come across as suggestive or inappropriate. Women learn men aren’t safe because some men aren’t safe and we don’t wear signs saying “safe” or “unsafe.” So I try to smile or greet in a way the person can feel grace from me.
Sometimes gracious is to cross the street to avoid coming across as a threat. Sometimes gracious is a greeting without a smile. Sometimes gracious is asking a question that leads to a life story from someone I just met.
How do we look at people with eyes of grace? Grace that is more than civility, even more than cheer. Grace as a greeting is “God, let the moment I pass be a moment of kindness for them. Let this moment of greeting be an encounter with you.”
Does God’s grace come across in a mere greeting? Does a moment of kindness make a difference? Yes. And yes. Often I can’t see that difference. But I know because Jesus says it makes a difference. I know because Jesus says it makes a difference in me.
This Lent, I find God directing me to take my eyes off of the immovable, unsolvable problems and notice the smallest interactions, of which all these conflicts are constructed.
Loving God, let us walk through the world in grace and as grace.