“The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you…”
The sun waved farewell to the day and dipped below the horizon. I buttoned my coat and walked to Main Street as the last of the day’s light faded into the cold dark. The corner restaurant was roasting chickens over an oak wood fire. The aroma made my mouth water. Down the street, people sat outside the cafe, huddled under the orange glow of electric heaters; steam rising from their coffee cups. The sound of laughter and happy voices filled the night. Farther down the street, storefronts twinkled with Christmas lights.
As I walked past the ice cream parlor, the clerk waved at me from behind the counter. The store was empty, too cold for a cone on a night like this. As I stood at the corner, deciding which way to turn, a man shoved his wheelchair into the crosswalk. Car lights illuminated his disability; his legs amputated below his knees. When he got to my side of the street, he looked up at me and smiled so brightly that I couldn’t help but smile back. His eyes danced with a sweet sparkle. “Wonderful evening,” he said as he tipped his hat at me.
I stood and watched him propel himself down the sidewalk until he was out of sight. I’m not sure why, but I turned back and retraced my steps. The bell on the door of the ice cream parlor jingled as I pushed open the door. The clerk’s face lit up, happy to see a customer.
I enjoyed my ice cream as I walked home, all the while pondering the man’s smile. It felt oddly familiar. Did I know him? I wondered. Of course not. I had never seen him before. When I arrived home I turned the key in the door. I stepped into the dark and snapped on the light. The brightness chased away my confusion. Suddenly I knew why the man’s smile was so familiar! God had smiled at me through him! I pressed the memory of his smile to my heart, all the while marveling at God’s goodness. It is a wonderful night! I thought.