The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV)
She stood at the front of the room with this new smile on her face. A complicated one. It didn't start with her mouth. Her mouth was serious. It started with her eyes.
She was planted at the front of the room to receive an award. My favorite army guy and I had gone over protocol and procedure with her beforehand. I had him take the lead because, after all, this was a military event and he knew best. He told her she could not, under any circumstances, hug. Handshakes only. And we practiced the handshake that she is surprisingly good at.
So, the smile started with her eyes. For a half a second, I thought she wasn't going to smile at all, her face was so focused, there didn't seem to be room for a smile. She was focused on the rows of chairs filled with rows of people sitting before her, on the certificate in the hand of the woman next to her, on the uniforms milling about in the back by the door. Mostly, she was focused on the words being said. Words about her work, about her attitude, about her joy.
That's when it started. With her eyes, at the word joy, like the word was a cue to turn on a light.
Her eyes crinkled. Then her eyebrows raised, as if the crinkling had surprised her in some way. Those eyebrows raised, and that lifted her hairline up, which created a chain reaction with her mouth and her nose. First the corners of her mouth turned up, every so slightly. Then her nose wrinkled up, just a tad, right between those laughing eyes. Then the lips parted. Then the corners of her mouth curved up more, which opened it wider. The eye crinkles had deepened and eyebrows were back home, but the mouth stayed in its full-on grin. By the time my girl went to shake the hand of the presenter, she was smiling all the way from the inside out. You could hear it in her voice.
"Thank you," she said. Then, holding the certificate with great, tender pride, she looked at me and her dad and winked.
"I am volunteer." She told me later.
Yes. She is.
You have shined your face on us in ways we never dreamed of.
Thank you for the many blessings you have given us.
Thank you for my daughter's many smiles.