I don’t normally copy and paste stuff from my friend Erin’s blog, but I found this post of hers very moving:
A smile to remember
Not every story is pleasant to hear, but I feel obligated to share the beautiful along with the ugly so that you may get a true sense of the culture and the new surroundings I have adapted to in the past year, which actually aren’t so new to me anymore.
I suppose I could sigh a sigh of relief to have been allowed to get as far as I already have in this culture in such a short period of time. But regardless of what has become routine for me now, there are still moments that freeze in my mind and truly make me realize what home now is for me.
I was on the bus this morning as usual. I always sit in the back so I can see all that goes on because I love to observe the people. I saw an Ethiopian gentleman get on the bus. He had his kippah on (he was Jewish) and wore secondhand clothing like most of the Ethiopians do here because the majority live in poverty. He was wearing a giant smile that was glued to his face as though all he ever did was smile! I watched as he sat two rows in front of me. For some reason I couldn’t stop watching him, probably because I was waiting for his smile to disappear. You see, here in Israel, people don’t usually smile and if they do it’s a short-lived memory. However, this man never stopped smiling. He kept staring out the window like he was seeing it all for the first time… and that smile! Oh that smile never disappeared for a second! So white against his dark skin, reminding me of my time in Africa that was full of white smiles on dark faces.
And then, as I was watching I noticed small spots on his shirt and shortly after that realized the spots were moving. They were actually fleas. He was not covered with them but there were quite a few. But even though this man was extremely poor, owned very little and even looked extremely malnourished and had fleas crawling all over him, he smiled a smile that I have rarely seen in my lifetime.
It was beautiful.
It was humbling.
And it gave me a picture that I will never forget because this man was beautiful, fleas and all.
More than that, it gave me a picture of what God does when he sees us. Sometimes we are covered in dirt, looking like a mess and maybe even oblivious to our own state, yet He smiles upon us and sees beyond the filth and into what is underneath it all.
This is the mind we need to have toward others.
It made this well-groomed girl feel quite humble.
His was a smile to remember.