Routinely pleasant.

I wrote this several years ago. I was looking for a different post I’d written about smiling, and I came across this one. I think it’s still helpful during this Advent.


DeVon‘s memorial service is tomorrow. He was 92.

“When I get that old, I want to be that pleasant,” one of my coworkers said. Everyone around the table agreed. Everyone had a story about DeVon’s courtesy, thoughtfulness, smile, commitment. He wasn’t perfect. But he was routinely good.

Routines shape our days. They give our minds and hearts tracks to follow through the chaos of our daily life. As I said yesterday, a routine is a set of thoughts and behaviors performed consistently.

DeVon’s life invites us to consider what direction our routines take us. What made him a gracious old man?

To be gracious when we are old takes practice. Practice on the outside, and practice on the inside. It means regularly remembering we are not the center of the universe. It means regularly remembering to thank people for shaping our lives. It means regularly, routinely, remembering to ask for counsel from God and from others. It means routinely smiling, routinely listening, routinely showing up for whatever your work is. It means routinely accepting correction, the possibility that there are other ways to do things.

As I thought about DeVon, I thought about God’s words through Micah, a prophet.

When we are thinking about how to change our lives, we often focus on big events, dramatic sacrifices. We attempt binge confessions. Instead, Micah says, look at how you live day to day:

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

DeVon was a pleasant old man because he practiced justice and mercy and humility. He got better at it as he worked on it.

Looking at the next year, the next week, what will loving mercy look like?


This is some background for today’s reflection in Giving a Year Meaning: A Healing Journal for Advent 2020. Learn more at