AS we begin 2015, may it be blessed with health and peace for us all. Resolutions accompany every New Year. Perhaps one important gift is our ability to share encouragement and a smile.
The following reflection reminds me that every day we have a real opportunity, with gratitude, to share joy and hope. When was the last time I smiled?
‘A smile costs nothing, but gives much.
It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give.
It takes a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it, and none is so poor but that he can be made rich by it.
A smile creates happiness in the home, fosters goodwill in business and is the countersign of friendship.
It brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and it is nature’s best antidote for trouble.
Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away.
Some people are too tired to give you a smile;
Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give.’
In the same vein, do we value the rich beauty planted in the depth of our being? Recently, at a wedding, I was saddened when a number of guests refused to gather in the group photo. “We hate looking at ourselves in photos,” they said.
The following story challenges us all to value the treasure we are in the sight of God.
‘A man was exploring caves by the seashore. In one of the caves, he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake. They didn’t look like much, but they intrigued the man so he took the bag out of the cave.
‘As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls into the ocean one at a time as far as he could. He thought little about it until he dropped one of the balls and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone.
‘Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure. He found thousands of euros worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left. Then it struck him. He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean. Instead of thousands of euros in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he just threw it away.
‘It’s like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel. It doesn’t look like much from the outside. It isn’t always beautiful or sparkling, so we discount it. We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish, or well known and wealthy. But we have not taken the time to find the treasure that God has hidden inside that person.
‘There is a treasure in each and every one of us. If we take the time to get to know that person, and if we ask God to show us that person the way, He sees them, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth.
‘May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay.’
May we see the people in our world as God sees them.
A New Year’s prayer for 2015
May God make your year a happy one!
Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain
But by strengthening you to bear it as it comes;
Not by making your path easy
But by making you sturdy to travel any path;
Not by taking hardships from you
But by taking fear from your heart;
Not by granting you unbroken sunshine
But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows;
Not by making your life always pleasant
But by showing you when people and their causes need you most,
and by making you anxious to be there to help.
God’s love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead.***