Yesterday, I was looking through my photo files in search of a particular shot amongst the tens of thousands of files stored on my various drives. Most of those photographs document our journeys through the landscape, visits to sacred places and the beauty and history hidden within our mediaeval churches and cathedrals. Some, though, document the events we have held at many of these places and in particular, the faces of those who have attended, caught, almost inevitably, in laughter.
Just looking at the pictures from those weekend events, I found image after image of smiling faces, happy to share a moment with the camera or caught off guard in merriment. Even the ducks were smiling. And I found myself smiling back. It was not something over which I had any control… each smile drew a response, both in memory and in actuality. The photographs may have been taken a while ago, but the smiles on the screen were my ‘now’… and because I know and love these people too, each smile was familiar, warm and direct. Especially as, nine times out of ten, it had been me who was pointing the camera in the first place.
It was April last year when I wrote ‘A Bridge of Smiles’. Things were not looking good with our world at that point. The virus was biting and fear was oozing in through every crack we allowed. And yet we could still smile and connect with each other… sharing anecdotes and laughter as we waited dutifully in socially distanced lines to be allowed into a shop. That was before masks became mandatory. Before smiles were hidden behind a veil of fabric, before voices and laughter were muffled and the expression of joy made to feel like some kind of guilty pleasure.
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