Take Time to Smile at Each Other

Written by: Barb Spies, OFS, Director of Mission Services and Pastoral Care

St. Francis was known for having a love for all of creation. He saw God’s handiwork in everything and everyone around him. He worked ceaselessly to follow in the footsteps of Christ, who treated all with love. Warren J. Rouse, OFM, a Franciscan Friar, noted, “Each beggar, each transient, has a story gone wrong. We are accustomed to looking at but not really seeing them. Recently I saw a woman – maybe in her 60s – pushing a grocery cart full l of all her meager belongings. She was shuffling along with nothing but some clothing and a blanket. But what she needed most of all: to be recognized as a real person.”

I used to take university students to the St. Ben’s Meal Program, a ministry of the Capuchins in Milwaukee. We talked beforehand about the importance of recognizing each person who came through the line for dinner as an individual, making eye contact and offering kindness in addition to the food. We also dedicated part of the service time to sitting at the table with some of the guests to have conversation and a meal. It was an eye-opening experience for all of us. We gained more from the time spent at the table than the time in actual serving of the food.

I have a friend who often encounters those who are without homes and means to survive. She likes to come prepared on her walks through the city with some cash or with gift cards to a local restaurant. Sometimes she will step into a food establishment and pick up a meal to offer. When she gives a person the cash, the gift card, or the food, she makes eye contact and says something to that person. She acknowledges their humanity. She offers them not only sustenance, but dignity. When people question her actions, especially suggesting that the individual might just be looking for money for drugs, she explains that it is not her place to judge someone for their reasons for being in such a situation. Her call is to serve others in their time of need. 

Mother Teresa, the Saint of Calcutta, said, “Never has the world had a greater need for love than in our day. People are hungry for love. We don’t have time to stop and smile at each other. We are all in such a hurry! Pray. Ask for the necessary grace. Pray to be able to understand how much Jesus loved us, so that you can love others.”

Blessed Angela: “In all situations keep a pleasant mien and a peaceful and balanced mind.”

Some content requires Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.