The Strength of a Smile

The Strength of a Smile

Easter 28


“There are movements which impinge upon the nerves with a strength that is incapable, for movement has power to stir the sense and emotions, unique in itself.”  One of those movements is a smile.  It may seem odd that in this series about female inventors, celebrating the power, knowledge and strength of women, I elected to write about inventing a smile but to do such is perhaps, in my humble opinion, the best invention of all.


Earlier this week the author of the opening quote passed away.  Dorie Roberts stood a mere five feet, one inch tall and yet her smile and humor made her a giant in her industry.  “The minute you’re born, you’re getting older” was a favorite quip of hers.  She made every minute count, beginning her career sixty-five years ago, a career that continued right up to her death at age ninety years.  In fact, she still has some work in the can, as they say, awaiting release dates and had more scheduled to film.


Acclaimed as one of the great comic actresses on television as well as in movies, Doris Roberts did not quietly bide her time when not working.    Fourteen years ago she testified before a United States Congressional panel regarding age discrimination in the entertainment industry.  A passionate animal rights advocate, She worked with a group known as Puppies Behind Bars.  The non-profit trains inmates to train guide dogs and assistance animals for the physically disabled and elderly and also trains dogs in explosives detection for law enforcement agencies.  She also served as a chairwoman for the Children with AIDS Foundation.  Roberts also penned a memoir/cookbook entitled “Are You Hungry, Dear? Life, Laughs, and Lasagna”.


We all know that special person who has a brilliant smile that makes the day brighter.  I am blessed to know quite a few but one in particular stands out for me.  I know her in something of a professional sense since my voracious appetite for reading certainly might qualify me as a professional reader.  She is a librarian at my local library and when I visit there, I not only get great books, I walk out with a great attitude. 


This person I will simple call Elle (not her name but similar to her initials) has a smile for everyone entering her library.  Regardless of her day or mine for that matter, her smile is a ray of sunshine.  Regardless of the weather or what catastrophes might have befallen her, she lights up the front desk and instantly makes everything seem possible.  To be sure, working at a library is not fraught with danger like fighting a four-alarm fire but it does, like anything in life, come with its own set of challenges and they are as likely to overwhelm as anything.  Elle still smiles.


“When I go, if there’s a tombstone it will say,’ She doesn’t give in. She doesn’t give up. And she never takes no for an answer’.”  That quote from Doris Roberts is a great one for us all to adopt as a personal mantra.  It would be foolish, though, to pretend such is easy.  What makes it possible to have such a “can do” attitude is a smile.  Dale Carnegie once said “The expression one wears on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back.”


We think of inventions as things that involve engineers, nuts and bolts, equipment and machinery and they often do just that.  We forget that sometimes a simple smile can reinvent a person’s day or even their life.  On a list of habits of successful and happy people, smiling is number two.  Doris Roberts once said: “With my talent, I can make people laugh and give them another attitude about life.  What a blessing that is for me.”  A smile is a blessing for us all.


I know when I go to my library and see Elle, I feel empowered.  Just something as uncomplicated as a smile can do that for someone.  Rap star 2Pac once wrote a song about this in his “Power of a Smile”:   “The power of a gun can kill, and the power of fire can burn; The power of wind can chill, and the power of mind can learn; The power of anger, can raise inside until it tears you apart; But the power of a smile, especially yours, can heal a frozen heart.”


I hope today you never underestimate the power of a smile and share one with someone.  A smile can relieve anxiety, soothe pain, and give hope.  When you share a smile, you share the joy of living and you share your faith in a better tomorrow.  Smiles are contagious.  Go catch one today and pass it on!


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