Blessing others…with a smile

Jack and the butterfly

At the end of my run yesterday, I noticed a butterfly in my neighbor’s driveway. I put my hand close to its front legs, and it crawled onto my finger. As I walked home, I kept thinking it was going to fly away, but it didn’t, so when I got back to our house, I called Jack to show him and asked him to bring a little water with him.

He held out his hand, and the butterfly crawled onto his finger. He’d just washed his hands, so they were damp, and the butterfly stuck out its little tongue and began to drink the tiny drops of water. I went inside to get the camera and then we placed the butterfly on a leaf (with an additional few drops of water in case it was still thirsty) where it stayed for a couple of minutes before flying off.

A number of years ago, I worked for a community of nuns, and one of them had a special love for birds. One hot summer day, a tiny bird landed in the courtyard. Sister Sarah had been talking with me in the kitchen, but noticed it and said, “Everyone thinks that birds need to be fed, but forget that they get very thirsty” as she filled a shallow bowl with water, and took it outside to place near the bird.

Sister Sarah was always doing “little things” like that…things that made life better for everyone she came in contact with. One of the ways that she uplifted me was by smiling when we first saw each other. I always felt like she was genuinely happy to see me, and even now, years later when I think about her smile, it makes me feel good.

I thought about her a lot yesterday …maybe I can’t always offer “concrete” help to another, but I can always give them a smile…at least in my heart.

“Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way”.  Swami Vivekananda

P.S. Jenn Peek was the winner of the book!

24 thoughts on “Blessing others…with a smile

  1. Good morning Mary! Your blog always makes me smile! Smiles, like light, have a strong positive impact on me…both giving and receiving them. I read a quote once that went something like “if someone is missing their smile, give them yours”. And even the physical act of smiling, and smiling really big…makes me feel better! Like your beautiful butterfly, thirsty for some water and for some TLC, and a brief ride…sometimes I feel thirsty for smiles too. And…giving someone your smile may just be that ‘concrete’ help or sign that someone really needs…Thank you for starting my day with a smile!

  2. Thanks, Mary. Loved the story of the butterfly, and of Sister Sarah. By the way, I’m a member of The Smile Tribe, an informal group anyone may join simply by agreeing to smile at as many people as possible. And you know, while those smiles seem to make others feel good, they make ME feel good as well … a total win-win smile situation. 😀

  3. Thank you for the smile and warm feeling which started when I saw the butterfly. I love them. I also loved the story of Sr. Sarah.
    Doesn’t a smile warm our heart and even change our mood if we are upset for any reason? And isn’t it the little kindnesses that warm our hearts?
    I love your writings, Mary.

    • Yes! a smile…so simple and “available” and thank you Kathleen for your kind thoughts

  4. i had a Sister Sara in my life and a Sister Mary Margaret and Sister Penelope, they gave me one of the best gifts ever- I went to a small school in NY called Melrose, in fourth grade we moved to Michigan. 23 years later I drove in with my brothers to see all the changes, we opened the van door, and the nun standing there- Sister Mary Margaret…said “Heather”- Even now when I think of it I feel so much love. How could she have remembered that 4th grade girl 23 years later? Thank you for your story today it helped me remember a great gift.

    • Heather, your story gave my happy goosebumps. To be recognized after so many years. What a gift Sister Margaret gives – recognizing the uniqueness of every individual and making you feel special and remembered. So nice!

    • I love this story Heather and the feeling of being remembered in such a loving way…

  5. hi mary, they say butterflies symbolize those who have passed on and are thinking of us. maybe that little butterfly was Sister Sarah!

  6. Shortly after my husband died I was walking through a nursery carrying a tray of new plants. A beautiful butterfly came and sat on one of the blossoms and remained there until I went inside to check out. It felt like a loving touch from my Beloved–just what I needed. Last week a large black butterfly with orange and blue spots came and sat on my patio door, for the longest time. Again, I felt such a loving Presence. Thank you, Mary, for the stories you share that keep me mindful of deeper things.

    • It is true, I feel, that messages come to us when we’re open to seeing them and hearing them. The stories are wonderful here…a Sister remembering a 4th grade student; a butterfly on flowers. I think, if nothing else, even if they aren’t messengers from outside our realm of present understanding, the fact that we feel they are is somehow comforting.
      SandyP in Canada

  7. Such a gentle yet profound post today, Mary. I want to go outside, throw my arms wide to Spirit and send love and blessing to all who come by, be they human, feathered, winged, furred or however dressed by nature.

    Once again, you’ve reminded me of what’s important. It’s great to have a friend who does this every day! Thank you, Mary.

    • Thank you for this beautiful comment Suzanne…I love the image of “throwing our arms wide to Spirit and sending love and blessings to all!

  8. Apparently, I have a memorable smile & I use it constantly. It’s fun to smile at a non-grinning stranger in the grocery store and see them still smiling an aisle later. Bird feathers appear now and then in front of me and feel special. Great reminders! “See” ya’ll later–we’re about to go camping beyond the reach of cell phones, computers, etc…..cheers!

  9. Heartwarming. The other day one of the songbirds was drinking from the smallest little patch of water on my deck railing. Tomorrow I’ll get a bird bath.
    Thanks Mary.

    • Well Cindy, we are bird bath twins because we finally got our birdbath on Tuesday also! Hope you are loving yours too!

    • Thank you Terri! Your kind words go right to my heart in a warm embrace

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