He Never Smiles Back

I greet everyone on my morning walks. And I mean everyone–even the four-legged ones. I don’t care if people have headphones in or ignore me or even look away. Because most don’t–even if they are wearing headphones. They smile and greet me back. They’re happy to introduce their dog and chat a minute. Over time, many of us have exchanged names and some of us have even become friends off the Riverwalk. So the “hard cases” don’t bother me at all. I just continue to greet and smile and let God do whatever He wants to. And today, He did something.

I have passed the same older Asian gentleman, walking slowly with a cane, for a couple of years now. Stone-faced, eyes straight ahead, he never acknowledges me or my greeting. But today, he tipped his head to me with a smile and whispered politely, “Good morning.” And I have to admit, the sweetness and surprise (or shock?) of it, made me a little teary-eyed as I went my way. After all this time, I have no idea what changed or made him do that. But it made me happy.

Consistent, unabashed friendliness, given freely to anyone and everyone alike, regardless of their non-response, has a strength and power we may not realize. It does something to us. People have told me so. It seems to plant seeds of goodness somehow, and in this case, crack even the hardest of shells. And both can be used down the road in ways we may never fully know. Many people are simply waiting for someone to be friendly and then they will be friendly back. Well, I’m not waiting. I hope you won’t either. Frankly, it’s just way too much fun watching what friendliness can do.

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