Saturday, December 31, 2011

You Don't Have To Smile.

(Originally posted on 5/16/10)

It had been six days since the flood came and overwhelmed Nashville. Many had lost much; some had lost everything. I was fortunate. My home was relatively untouched. Though, as of that Friday, my internet, TV and phone/cell still weren't working. Electricity was spotty at best.

I know it's not even close to the devastation so many are experiencing, but on that day, I was beyond frustrated and feeling a bit under the weather. Thankfully, I had been booked for a speaking gig in Gatlinburg and was on my way out of town for a week.

So, I packed my bags and headed for the mountains. On my way, I stopped to pick up some snacks at the Walmart in the heart of one of the areas greatly impacted by the flood. I was in a rush when I brought my items up to the cashier. But, when I approached her, I saw something in her expression. She had a pleasant smile, but it just seemed like she was barely holding on. It was one of those moments we all have from time to time, when we realize we should say something to some one. Too often, we ignore that prompt in our gut. That day, I listened.

As I put my items down, I asked her very deliberately, "How are you doing right now?" It wasn't the standard "How's it going?", that we don't really want someone to answer. I was intentional. I looked straight into her eyes. She paused, took a breath, and said "I'm not doing very good. I lost it all." In one moment, we connected. Before I could think about it, all I said was "You don't have to smile right now." Not very profound. But, her response floored me. "That is the best gift I have gotten in a while." She let go and suddenly a less forced, small grin came across her face. She then handed me my change. It was a penny. She took my hand and placed it into my palm and said "Hold on to this. You don''t understand how valuable it might be one day." I almost lost it on the way out of the store.

This wasn't a huge event. It won't appear in the newspaper and I didn't do anything extraordinary. But, it was one of those moments that I will never forget. It changes you. It changed me. It's those small moments of connection that make up a life. It's those moments that bring us closer to who we are all meant to be.

That kind lady is still in my thoughts and prayers. Will you remember her today as well? While you're at it, remember all who are struggling in Tennessee right now. We can use it.

Take care of yourself,


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