The greeting leaps out of me every time i see him; the little old man with the frayed straw hat. He’s usually raking the sidewalk or shuffling down the road with his particular sideways gait. He always flashes a big bright smile and a wave of his hand, a smile much bigger and brighter than his demeanor suggests.
There is something magical about this old man… there is a twinkle in his eye, a bright flash of exuberance and vitality, his divinity peeking from behind the illusion of form and saying “I see you”.
We share a big smile and a knowing look and continue on our way, my way always being brighter from the joy of his smile.
One of the things i love about living on a small island is how many people you get to say hello to each day. Its happening outside on the street all day long; people hailing each other. I remember reading a kid’s summary of what she loved about visiting her grandparents in the country; she said “Everybody waves back.”
Here, in addition to the wave, there’s also a verbal hello. I guess that’s natural when most of you are on a bike, a golf cart or on foot, which most people still are here.
The old man has been here as long as i can remember. I’ve watched him get a little more stooped over as the years go by. He’s moving a bit slower, but his smile is always totally full on.
His smile is how i think of him; big, bright and beautiful. He works at a local marina, always raking and cleaning, and i often see him when i ride my bike downtown. We’ve never shared more than a few words, we never needed to. We share a look of knowing, the look that says “I see you, and i see that you know the light of joy as do i”…
This afternoon i rode my bike downtown to take the water taxi over to South Bimini. I got myself and my bike on the boat and sat down, waiting. I looked up to see the old man stepping aboard. We said hello, sharing a big smile, and while there were plenty of bench seats all around, i slid over and patted the spot next to me, inviting him over.
“Join me!” I said, eager to share a few words. He happily ambled over and plopped down.
“What’s your name?” I ask.
What, i wonder… Glory-az? Am i hearing him right? His english is broken… I wanting to call him by the name he uses to call himself, so i ask again…
He nods, eyes smiling. What a beautiful name for such a beautiful man! Glorious, of course!
We talk a bit, i ask him the usual questions. Where are you from? (Haiti) How long have you been here in Bimini? (Since 84) How long have you worked at the marina? (7 years). His english is hard for me to understand.
“I love your smile, you are always smiling!” I say. He smiles.
This isn’t enough… I’m giddy with joy, want to champion this smile more, want to celebrate it, sing it, shout it, tell the world and him how much i love his smile…
“He has such a great smile! He’s always smiling; isn’t his smile great?” I say to the water taxi driver, a quiet young man in his twenties. He breaks into a big grin and shakes his head yes. I’m delighted that he sees it too, and is willing to acknowledge it. Glorious’ smile is multi-generational, it reaches across the ages…
The three of us fall silent, and i look at Glorious again. He’s looking south, to the approaching dock (the water taxi ride is only 5 minutes). I see the profile of his face, with the sea behind him, and am inspired.
I appreciate this humble neighbor, i appreciate his joy and humility. The idea to share the story of his smile with you jumps in my mind… Hey, its been awhile since i’ve written anything, and this smile, its beautiful!
I get bold…
“Glorious, can i take your picture?”
He smiles and nods his head. I pull out my camera and take a few snapshots. He’s tickled!
The boat arrives and off we go. I smile all the way to my destination.
Sometimes the simplest of things moves me so deeply…
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A guest on National Geographic, Fox TV and Oprah, Joe reflects back to people that this world is already a Heaven on Earth, and that the tools to find joy in the moment are around and within us. That harmony is inevitable and that innately we all just love each other and sometimes we forget — he is here to help us remember.
“Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God” Tielhard de Chardin