Beauty is not in the face, it is a light in the heart. - Khalil Gibran
Some of the most beautiful things in life we miss and walk right past. In my pocket, I put a small folded piece of paper. On that paper I have written a name. It is a name of a person I almost didn't take the time to get to know. It was a name of a person I had once avoided.
I work with the elderly and I love what I do. Most of the time, I make instant friends with those I work. But others take a little more time. One person, in particular, made me nervous. I will call her...Madeline for this story. Every time I walked by her, she would rush from her chair and confront me. Five inches from my face she would shout, "Why are you here!?!" What are you doing!?!" Being a master of dealing with difficult situations, I would avoid her by quietly tip-toeing past.
But one day I had an unavoidable confrontation. The bell choir that I conduct was about to have a concert. I had an audience of about 30 people...and a chime choir of 10. All of a sudden, I heard shouts coming from the audience. Turning around, I saw Madeline...and I needed to quickly calm her down.
I walked up to her. Immediately, she raised her fist to strike. My bell choir gasped. Trying to shake off my own fear, I calculated how hard a 70 year old lady could punch anyway. I stepped closer again. She shouted again. Now, just a few inches away I reassured her and let her know she would enjoy the show and everything was OK.
I did not see Madeline for one week after that incident, but when she saw me again, I braced for more of the same. Somehow though, things were different. This time she followed me and asked to join my drum program. She sat just watching everyone at first, but then she joined in. When the program finished, and everyone had left, she remained. Then she began to talk (not shout). She told me about her family, about where she grew up and her children. And I listened.
Then this same lady, the many months before, who would shout at me as I walked past with my guitar, asked if I could sing her a few songs. So I did. For thirty minutes I sang. The entire time Madeline stared silently at the floor.
As I stood up to leave, Madeline lifted her head. She smiled at me for the first time and quietly whispered, "Thank you."
Until this day, Madeline confronts me whenever I walk by her, with my guitar slung over my back. But she does not shout. She asks when the music will be and if she can come along. And every time I say, "Yes". And every time, she smiles and says, "Thank you, I really enjoy coming." And I smile back and say, "I really, truly enjoy being with you, too, more than you will ever know."
Some of the most beautiful things in life we miss. I think we miss them for many reasons.
So, in my pocket I carry a name. I hope to never forget Madeline and her beautiful smile...
a smile that I almost never took the time to see...