Thursday, July 3, 2008

"Lord, can you hear me now...or am I lost?"

"Cold, cold water surrounds me now
And all I've got is your hand
Lord, can you hear me now?
Lord, can you hear me now?
Lord, can you hear me now?
Or am I lost?"

-     Damien Rice (from the film "I am David")

I recently had the rare privilege of watching a remarkable film about the power of love, kindness, and hope in the human heart.

"I am David" is memorable, not only for the indomitable spirit of this young boy on an impossible journey out of the horrors of a post-WWII prison camp, but for the instances of kindness that propel him forward.  Small moments of humanity which, like the soft fingers of flagella, move him through the cold dark waters of fear and doubt, towards the light of love.

Without giving too much away and ruining it for you, there is a scene where young David tries to fit into the landscape of human normalcy in order to avoid being returned to interment.  The voice of his mentor reminds him to assimilate. When a well-meaning baker is suspicious of his presence in the village because the boy doesn't smile, David realizes that smiling is something he needs to learn to do.  His early attempts to create a smile result in a distorted grimace, a forced expression which, when tried out on another unsuspecting merchant, undermines his desire to fit in to the social landscape and go unnoticed. 

Although he generally tries to stay hidden from others while making his pilgrimage, his inherent humanity surfaces and he finds himself rushing to the aid of a young girl in need.

Later, in the presence of her gratitude and sympathy for injuries he sustained during her his heroic rescue, David discovers how natural a smile is.  Her kindness has the irresistible effect on his face of creating what all of his desperate trying could not form....a simple, sweet smile.

It wasn't a manipulation of physiology, psychotropic medications, excited hormones, the production of pheromones, calming serotonin, plastic surgery or psychotherapy that produced a smile.  It was the presence of kindness…the flow of gratitude.

A smile - the expression of beauty, the outward manifestation of joy - is irrepressible, undeniable, imperative.  It springs from a place so primitively spiritual and eternal that we mistake it for physiological reaction.  But it is
not a reaction, but the very action of divinity in humanity, the outpouring radiance of Soul in the presence of Love…operating in, and on, the human heart.  This radiance can't help but shine in all its beatific loveliness from the face of any child of God.  

David discovers his smile. He doesn't have to create it or learn how to do it. It just is. From under the debris of hatred and the rubble of cruelty his beautiful smile springs forth at the first warm touch of Love's radiant love.

How many smiles will spring forth at the warm touch of your kindness, gratitude and love today?


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