In the Joyful Art of Smiles: A Lesson from Schoolyard Innocence

In the sun-drenched afternoons of my secondary school days, a simple yet beautiful game defined our youthful camaraderie. Gathered on the road in front of the boarding school, we aimed not to cause mischief but to play our version of a ‘positive game’ — making passers-by smile.

This delightful game wasn’t about deceit or tricks; it was an earnest attempt to elicit joy. Standing by the road, one of us would flash a smile at strangers, and if they reciprocated, we celebrated the shared moment. No prizes were exchanged, just the simple joy of making someone smile.

Reflecting on this cherished memory, a quote recently received via email echoed its essence: “The best way to dress up is to put on a smile. A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.” While this sentiment rings true, I’ve come to realize that the best smiles emanate from the purity of one’s heart.

In the book of Samuel, it’s written: “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Our childhood game, seemingly trivial, mirrored this divine perspective. It taught us that genuine smiles, the ones that reflect virtue and kindness, originate from beautiful hearts.

As we navigate the complexities of life, may we revisit the simplicity of that schoolyard game. In the grand tapestry of our existence, let our smiles not be mere adornments but reflections of the beauty within. For, in the words of Mother Teresa, “Peace begins with a smile,” and in each genuine smile, we contribute to a more joyful world.

By Fr Nilora SVD


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