Peace Begins with a Smile
October 29, 2020
A Small Gesture, but a Mighty Impact
I was in line the other day waiting to order my lunch. The act of waiting very quickly turned into a profound moment of deep thought and reflection. As I took in my surroundings, I began to realize something was lacking. I noticed that something very important was not happening around me. An action so subtle that it could easily be overlooked, but an embodied expression so necessary it could hinder human flourishing. “What could this possibly be?” You are most likely asking yourself. It was the absence of smiling faces.
As the young woman approached me to take my order, I decided to lower my COVID-19 mask (just a smidge) so that I could greet her with a warm and delightful smile. Yes, my eyes move a little bit when my facial muscles form a happy grin, but there is no adequate replacement for a smiling, human face. In that moment, I was reminded of the words of St. Teresa of Calcutta, “Peace begins with a smile”. I then proceeded to give the young woman my order.
Come, Holy Spirit!
Back in April, I wrote a blog post titled Coming Together in a Time of Need. I spoke about how we have practiced “social distancing” long before the “social distancing” mandates were put in place. Now, separation and division have only increased in our city, in our country, and in our world. When will this unrest cease? When will the Bride of Christ be able to enjoy Holy Communion with the Body of Christ? Despite the uncertainty, I want to take a moment to beg the Holy Spirit to come into our hearts, into our homes, into our schools, into our workplaces, and into our places of worship. I beg the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth, and to remind us of our divine calling, that we were made for more!
It has been quite edifying, that in spite of the circumstances and the additional requirements placed on our educational system, Catholic dioceses and schools are still coming forward with the desire to teach Theology of the Body using ROOTED: K-12 Theology of the Body Curriculum. While budgets are tight, and demands are high, these Catholic institutions are aware that the faithful need to be reminded of our foundational identity in what it means to be human; what God is calling us to, and how to live a life full of love, peace, and joy aimed towards our eternal destiny, the beatific vision.
Continue to Spread the Good News
Given the current situation our schools face, ROOTED has been made even more adaptable to any educational setting, thanks to the newly published Unit Lesson Plans for K-5, the additional online resources for K-8, and the online structure of Called to be More (for grades 9-12). In particular, these items are enriching “remote learning”, while reminding parents, teachers, and students of our “call to communion” with one another and with God, our loving Father. I am sure it will make you smile when you see how lives have been impacted by this beautiful message!
One antidote, in particular, comes to mind. It has been an absolute gift assisting the Dioceses of Grand Rapids, MI and Lansing, MI with using Called to be More to set hearts ablaze, forming all of their diocesan principals and teachers in Theology of the Body! What an incredible use of our online upper school curriculum, and a beautiful way for this message to reach our young people. Additionally, parents and teachers themselves have been engaging with Called to be More in a whole multitude of ways! I have spoken to parents from the east coast who are using our online curriculum in order to interact with other parents and to share the message of Theology of the Body virtually. Moreover, as I work with teachers all over the country, I hear them tell me that they have found this online curriculum to be well suited during this time of increased “virtual learning”!
Faithfulness is Key
Yes, there are obstacles and challenges that our world is facing right now. However, we should not let these become excuses for discontinuing the spreading and defending of the kingdom of God, which is a declaration of life and love. It can seem daunting at times, and our frail human hearts may be tempted to give up or to give in to the lures and pressures of the world. Yet — there is a different way. Instead, I am reminded of what a friend once told me, “Don’t let what you can’t do keep you from doing what you can.” I have witnessed these words become flesh every day with schools and families who are embracing the message of TOB, finding unique ways of sharing it with others, and allowing God to work in and through them.
So, whether it is a good old textbook, a new online curriculum, or the beauty of a warm and delightful smile, may the message of God’s love continue to be spread and made known! Know that my prayer for you will remain the same:
“May the LORD bless you and keep you. May the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. And May the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24)
John David Kimes,
Ruah Woods Press High School Curriculum Consultant