The Power Of a Mere Smile
--by savraj, posted Jul 17, 2017
My last visit was very memorable. For some reason, there was a levity in the air. More than ever before, I felt a lightness as I spoke with each person. We shared stories and smiles and fears. Even the toughest inmates seemed to be surrounded by light. I saw them as not only youth, being punished for crimes, but also as children who have the potential to change for the better. Most of them wanted to talk longer! They were reaching out to us! It felt right.
When we thought we were done, there was a surprise. There was one more inmate. He was confined to a different unit in a solitary cell. We were asked if we were okay going down there. We said that we were. Two guards escorted us down and when we entered the area, instant tears welled up in my eyes. The area was sad and barren. These guards didn't smile. We entered the cell and had to make do with what was there and went ahead with the vaccines after obtaining consent.
We were done but I didn't want to leave. I gave the 17 year old a gentle touch and smile as I explained what to do regarding the side effects. At first, there was no response, so I just looked down at his bare feet and then to my supplies. I thought that I had better pack up. Suddenly, he looked up at me and smiled before he said "Thanks" and then he gave me a thumbs up. I smiled back and said, "You're welcome. Take care of yourself."
It was wonderful to receive a kind response from someone who was in such a harsh place. As we walked back to the main entrance, we didn't speak. Prayers were in my heart for everyone there. Where there can be a smile, there is hope. I prayed that all the smiles I saw today would stay with these youth and that these smiles would bring about an inner healing that would change the course of their lives. Sometimes smiles can be very powerful.