It is tempting to not turn on the news this week. Once again I am out in Minnesota, being splendidly taken care of by the good folks at The Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research. I have my own lakefront apartment and last night they welcomed us with local beer and wild rice and maple brats. Under the spell of such extravagant welcome, it would be easy to let the world fall away.
But being something of a news junky (and since I am here for a residency on digital media), I couldn’t resist a little peek at CNN this morning. Where I learned Nelson Mandela is in the hospital again. He’s 94 now. One of these times, we are going to lose him. When we do, the world will lose one of its great, great smiles.
Some say it’s the eyes that tell, but for me, it’s the smile. I fall in love with smiles. It’s where a person’s character is revealed. Who in this world has a better smile than Nelson Mandela? All those years in prison, that extraordinary capacity for forgiveness, delight, wisdom–it’s all there in his smile. One of these days the world is going to lose that smile. And it will be up to us to fill that void with other smiles. So start now. Smile like Nelson Mandela.