Thursday, November 1, 2012

That Smile


That smile. I can’t get that smile out of my head, aged skin defying gravity as an entire face is lifted in a smile, weary eyes suddenly sparkling. I can’t stop hearing that soft and unexpectedly joyous voice responding “¡Hola!” My heart literally aches within me whenever that beautiful smile enters into my consciousness. Whose husband is he? Those weathered hands should be used to caress a wife’s cheek, not to hold out, barren, towards passersby in the hope of receiving a Quetzal, or maybe even two. Whose grandpa is he? That precious voice should be used to whisper words of love into a grandchild’s ear, not to so hopefully acknowledge a stranger who walks right on by – and yet never forgets that voice. With only one word, only one smile, my heart was broken for a petite Guatemalan man – and for all those who should’ve been loved by him. My heart yearns to do something, to somehow restore life to this husband, this grandpa. And yet my heart knows that a sip of cold water, a piece of bread – even a gallon of water and a loaf of bread – will only satiate a hungry stomach for a short time and do nothing to transform a broken life. And because of this, my heart searches for answers, for solutions. There has to be more than this, than just walking by and praying with all that I am. There has to be something that can be changed, something that can be done, to free the millions from this oppression of poverty. It’s going to have to be big – something much more than donating money every month or sending used clothes to Africa. It’s going to have to treat the cause, not just the symptoms. It’s going to have to look at the big picture, realizing that our American affluence and comfort is gained at the expense of an elderly man sitting bent over in the shade of a red stucco building, begging to survive. It’s going to have to change the way land is callously treated, leaving the soil too depleted for the poor to sustain themselves. Oh how I wish this were an easy fix, a weekend project! Oh how I wish someone could just tell me “live like this, and poverty will be ended in no time!” Oh how I wish I knew what to do to help these people, these husbands, these grandpas! The solution is so complex and unknown that I want to just close my eyes and turn my back. Yet my heart won’t let me forget that smile. That smile inspires me to keep searching, keep searching for a solution, keep seeking my God on my knees, acknowledging that I am completely clueless and completely incapable, but that He is oh so capable. So I will continue on, hand in hand with my God, that smile in my heart.