Without consulting a dictionary, based on having lived through three years of high school Latin, I know that “ad” means “to” or “toward.” Likewise, based on many more than three years of learning English, I know that “mire” means “slush” or “muck.”
Putting those two things together, I cynically see etymologically what experience and observation has shown me; in the pop culture, we often direct our attention to individuals whose attitude and behavior are not worthy of emulation. (Unfortunately, even children’s literature (e.g. early series books) holds up characters whose behavior would not have cut it before edgy plots and bratty characters became the standard.)
Interestingly, consulting an online Latin dictionary, I have discovered that “admire” has two Latin roots: “ad,” whose meaning I already knew, and “mirari”: “to wonder at,” which I did not know! … Surprisingly, I discovered that the parallel Greek roots for “admire” translate into “smile.”
Yes! Smile! We smile at what we admire. A smile of appreciation. A smile of approval. A smile of contentment. We smile!
When I find myself spontaneously smiling (without consciously thinking that I want to be smiling), I know I am in the presence of a resonating truth…Truth about myself, the situation, or S/someone else.
Have you ever had that happen to you—that you smiled before you even figured out why?
When that happens, I surprise myself, knowing that I know more than I consciously think, and knowing that there is a knowledge in me I can trust; a knowledge that doesn’t depend on human thinking.
Maybe that’s what St. Paul was referring to when he said that we should…
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.“ (Phil. 4:6-7)
And so this week’s OLW “admire,” it seems to me, connects with last week’s OLW “mindfulness.”
Truthfully, I’ve noticed that when my mind is full of myself; when I am self-absorbed with fears, concerns, and anxieties, I don’t admire anyone. I’m not free to smile, to appreciate, to acknowledge another’s goodness (which is, in fact, a reflection of God’s Goodness shining through that person).
Admiring requires humility, a self-forgetfulness, an ability to rejoice over and to be gladdened by another’s blessings. Every time I’m tempted to be jealous of and to resent someone’s gifts and achievements thinking them unworthy of admiration, I recall a preacher’s strong admonition.
When we resent someone’s good fortune, lamenting to God that they are undeserving of this or that material or spiritual benefit, we really are disrespecting God’s Providence. We really are like the workers in Jesus’ parable (Matt. 20:11-15) who complained that those who started working later in the day had been overpaid. And God says to us (as the owner in the parable said to the complaining workers about His money), “Am I not free to do as I wish with My own [gifts]?”
And so, as I make this spiritual journey home to the Father, I’m realizing that it really is God Whom I best admire…His Goodness, His Beauty, His Creativity, His Mercy, His Kindness etc.…
Anyone whose behavior is not worthy of God—anyone whose behavior is not reflective of those attributes of God’s—still is worthy of my smile of love and respect since that person is made in the Image and Likeness of God (as am I).
But as for my smile of admiration, which is the highest form of consent and approval I can offer to a fellow human being without idolizing him or her as a god, I need to be judicious in my willing admiration of others, even if they never know or see my admiration. I’m guarding my mind and heart, my prerogative to admire in keeping with God’s Goodness.
That being said, SJT community members: please know that without hesitation, I admire the truthfulness with which you share your strivings to journey with and toward God. Thank you for revealing His Goodness to me through your weekly reflections and sharings.
(p.s. Yes! When I think of you, I’m smiling–grateful smiles of admiration.)
Bobbie, I think the way you got into this blog is clever and made me smile, a word I would not have associated with the act of admiring (although it is a significant part). Yes, admire links with mindfulness-thanks for reminding me of that. Lastly, the quote, Be anxious for nothing…” is one to linger over today. Have a great day.
Thank you so much for taking time to read and to share your very kind comments. When I read your post this morning, with your reference to smiling at the gift of the surprise poetry books, I thought: yes! Thank You, Lord! Carol has confirmed the connection I wrote about–the connection of (spontaneous, heartfelt) smiling with admiration. Your post made my day on many counts. Thank you! God bless you!
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A smile is a powerful thing! As a teacher, I love how smiling can transform a child’s day – especially the “troublemaker”. That child isn’t always used to be smiled at, and he/she deserves it, too. I’m thinking of the time a “troublemaker” maker came toward my room with a couple other kids, and I exclaimed, “Here comes some of my favorite people!” with a smile on my face. He hesitated, looked around, and questioned, “Even me?!” I laughed and said, “Yes!” He responded with a big smile back. Transformative. Imagine if God withheld his smiling countenance when we are troublemakers. Instead, he smiles down upon us all the time with His grace. We need to do the same!
Amen! I’ve been toying with sharing a reflection on smiling. You’ve written one so beautifully! Thank you for taking so much time to do that. You are a blessing to me, and I’m sure to all your students! …Just thought of something. I’ve been doing an “Out of the Mouths of Babes” series on Catholic365. Mind if I anonymously use your story, saying a “teacher” shared the story, not naming you? …If it’s ok, what grade or what age is the child? …Not a problem at all if you prefer not…I have been very edified by your story in response to my “admire” post. I admire your great kindness and compassion to all your students–and to us! Thank you!
Lovely, as always, Bobbie. I really enjoy the way you come at things from various angles–an invitation to go deeper and explore more than what’s on the surface.I agree with you that admiration is a product of other thought processes, including mindfulness. In many ways it’s the fruit of good thoughts. Of the many I could pick, I will choose one observation that I think is really astute: “When we resent someone’s good fortune, lamenting to God that they are undeserving of this or that material or spiritual benefit, we really are disrespecting God’s Providence.” Well said!
Thank you so very much for your affirming comments. Thank you, too, for sharing your thoughts and perspectives. It is always a blessing when you share your wisdom in response to something I’ve written. I can’t tell you how many times thinking about that teaching that you quoted has convicted me. Someday–please God, I’ll stop resenting God’s Goodness shed on others thanks to that quote. God bless you, and thank you as always, ever so much!