Brighten: (v) make or become more light.

The passing years have taught me to sniff out potentially awkward situations and therefore be able to avoid them.Dictionary B

It is a blessing in a station of life that is usually cursed with wrinkles, balding and intolerance for jalapenos.

But no matter how hard you try to scrounge out all the possible weird moments, something always slips through.

Maybe you’ll end up in the middle of an obtuse conversation about God, politics or climate change.

Sometimes you get stuck with a family member who normally is given kitchen duty so no one needs to talk to him or her.

Or all the preparations you made for a journey are mocked by your vehicle, which decides to have a mid-warranty crisis.

You’re trapped.

It is in those junctures that we discover the depth of our intelligence, the breadth of our faith and the circumference of our willingness.

If we could just make a covenant with one another to take all of these “itchy encounters” and decide to brighten them up with humor, passion and concern, the human race would not have to run so fast and could stop for water breaks.

When I was a child there was a song that was often performed on what my mother referred to as “the hillbilly shows.” (These were local broadcasts which offered Country Western music from people donned in bangles, sparkles, ruffles and various incarnations of cow hide.) Even though my mother made fun of them, she occasionally watched them, and one of the songs that stuck with me had a closing lyric which has always rattled around in my soul:

“Brighten the corner where you are.”

We all get cornered.

We can act like frantic bugs, fearing we’re on our last multiple legs–or we can try to turn that corner into some sort of miracle that we’ve been dreaming of for years–and pretend it is the best thing that ever happened.

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