I recently came across a quote attributed to noted theologian and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. “I feel gratitude in my heart each time I can meet someone and look at his or her smile.” I couldn't help but think, "How ironic!" In this time of masking, seeing a smile is a rare treat! In fact, to the contrary, I experience a bit of gratitude whenever I can't see a smile because someone is wearing a mask.
A smile is a little thing, isn't it? Not being able to see one is a small price to pay for a measure of interpersonal safety. But still, I miss smiles. And I miss handshakes. I really like a good, solid handshake. My father taught all of us, my sister included, that a person is immediately judged by their willingness to offer a firm handshake. Such a wonderful way to say, I see you, I respect you, I'm glad you are here. But handshakes too, are not just rare these days, they are almost non-existent, at least in the circles I travel. Yet they too are a small matter in the greater scheme of things. Even in flu seasons past I have often found myself forgoing handshaking.
Maybe the pandemic has forced us to realize how important these little things can be. Smiles, and handshakes, and hugs; how they convey so much. But though they are often missing as we relate to each other, I am discovering there are other little ways of communicating that say I see you, I care. The eyes, for instance, peeking above a mask. They can smile too. And a wave of the hand to a neighbor passing on the other side of the street. That can show a measure of caring. Hey there, neighbor, hope you are well. Glad to see you, if only in passing. Stay well!
As we approach Thanksgiving some of things we have always taken for granted will be missing. But that does not mean there will be nothing for which we can offer up words of gratitude. Indeed, maybe we will be able to spot some of the things we've missed in the past.
So in recognition of our national holiday devoted to gratitude, let me say thank you for reading this blog--and for turning to it whenever you do. After all, what's the written word without readers?