I forgot about the "happy oranges."
My friend's teenage daughter Katie jubilantly handed me an orange with the telltale smiley face penned in marker on it. Thrusting it in my hand like it was a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket, she beamed with joy. On the surface, it was just fruit, but its history represented much more.
Years ago as a small child, Katie would visit my home with her older brothers every week. Every year our boys would spend hours practicing for a science competition. All the while, Katie would be playing by herself, reading, or coloring quietly in another room.
As the youngest, I knew her world. Always looking on, always waiting your turn and usually being too young to do what the older ones were doing. One day, I decided I would give her a little something to let her know I was glad she was there. As she was leaving, I colored a smiley face on a clementine orange and gave it to her as a parting gift. We called it the "happy orange" and it became our little ritual and tradition all of those years of those weekly visits.
At the time, I thought it was simply a humorous gesture. Later, when I visited Katie's home, she returned the gift and would give me a "Happy Orange" as I left too. The act always brought a smile to my face and our families came to realize it truly was a symbol of kindness and love.
At the heart, the Happy Orange meant, "I see you and want to remind you that you are loved."
We all want to be seen and heard. If we are honest, it doesn't take much to do that. Literally, coloring a smiley face on orange. It requires only the intention to love others wherever our feet take us. Katie's mom fondly calls this "leaking Jesus" as the way we see and love those who cross our paths.
What About You? How Can You See and Hear Others This Week?
This week my church talked about sharing the love of Christ without adding a single thing more to our to-do list. I love that. It's been a fun challenge to look at my regular life and consider like Katie's mom says, "where can I leak Jesus?" It might be listening and asking thoughtful questions of the guy who does my hair or praying over healing for my friend who works out with me. Sometimes it's doodling smiley faces on oranges.
What's great about leaking Jesus is that we can't help but get some on us too.