Feel good stories, that is how Terry Cozart once described my writings. I never really thought about them that way, but I guess that could be said.
Too often when we read a newspaper or watch the evening news it seems that the world around us is not always a pleasant place.
Every now and then the news tells us of pleasant things that happened in the world. Most likely if it is a really good story, it will bring a smile to your face. You may not realize it, but you probably feel a little better for it. It was once said a smile is the second best thing you can do with your lips.
I have decided to try and give you a gift for the coming New Year, a smile. Hopefully my words will lighten your spirit and cause the muscles in your face to involuntarily contact into a smile-not an artificial smile, but the kind you feel deep within. It is known that a smile and laughter is good for you. You are calm and levels of stress are lessened. Muscles relax and blood pressure may lower.
I have a prescription for you to start your day tomorrow. When you look in the mirror first thing in the morning before anything else, don't comb your hair or wash the sleep from your eyes. Make a face at yourself in the mirror. You remember how, the kind you use to make at your big brother or sister when they got in trouble for picking on you. Or the kind you made at your sister when she brought home a new boyfriend and she told him of being an only child. Of course there is the kind you made in the mirror when you were six years old and no one saw except you.
Most likely if you make a face and stick out your tongue it will set off the internal reflex that creates a smile. When you do, the body responds by producing endorphins and serotonin, natural pain killers. Smiling is a prescription you can give to yourself to feel a little better.
You may also notice the more you smile the more the muscles in your face tighten up. Kind of like a free face lift.
Most of us already know smiling is a good thing. People sometimes pay good money to have a tan and purchase new clothes to make them feel good on the outside. These days people sometimes spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars to get a smile full of white teeth. Getting your teeth bleached with hydrogen peroxide and foaming at the mouth like a mad dog surely must be a good thing. Why else would people pay so much to show off their brilliant white teeth? But if those pearly whites are not surrounded by a smile, it was money ill spent. Just remember, if you smile, sunshine is said to be good for your teeth.
Of course you could be a believer in the words of W.C. Fields. Start every day with a smile and get it over with. I will have to confess, I am not a morning person. A smile and pleasantries is not my early morning way. On the other hand my wife wakes each day with a smile. I suspect she looks at my morning face and gets a laugh on the inside that spreads to her face. Over time I have come to realize that if I don't start my day with a smile, it's not too late to start practicing for tomorrow.
Sometimes the best smiles are the ones that make us feel warm inside. Perhaps my short story will bring such a smile to you.
For many years, the preacher had written his sermon in the church's small rectory. He would then read it out loud to himself to see how it sounded. His spoken words in the small room would give him a sense of how he wanted to present the sermon to his congregation on Sunday morning.
Every now and then when he had a special sermon he would go high into the balcony near the back of the church. He would deliver the words to the empty church to hear how it sounded in the great opening near the ceiling.
On such a day, he sat reading the words to himself in the back row of the balcony. He stood and began his sermon to the empty church below. He spoke of how God was always listening, even if he never answered except in our hearts. He paused for a moment to make a few notes. As he did he heard the door of the church open. He called out, "Who is there"? Not a sound returned up to his high place. He figured it must have been the wind.
Again, he began his sermon in his great booming voice that echoed from the high ceiling. "You must give with joy and be not selfish." After he finished that passage he again heard the door open and then close. This time he went down into the church to see who was there, but the church was empty.
After he finished, he returned to the rectory, turned out the lights, and was about to leave for the day when he heard the door in the back once again open. He saw Timmy, the young boy who lives next to the church, coming down the aisle towards the front. He wondered what the boy was up to.
"Timmy, can I help you?" The boy looked shyly away and then up toward the balcony. He held out his hand and in his palm were several coins. "I forgot to put my money in the offering basket last Sunday and I wanted to bring it in before Sunday school."
The preacher knelt down, "Timmy it would have been okay if you waited." Timmy looked at the man and said in a quiet voice. "I was going to keep part of it to buy a collar for my new puppy. But when I came in a little while ago God was speaking inside the church. He must have known what was in my heart and told me to give with joy and not be selfish. I went back home and got the rest of the money I forgot to put in the basket last Sunday."
With that explanation he handed the preacher the money and ran for the door. The next morning as the boy and his family left the services the preacher handed him a new red dog collar. He leaned down close to the boy and said in a quiet tone. "He wanted me to give this to you." The preacher then pointed up toward the balcony. The young boy's face lit up and he smiled.
I hope my story has made you smile as we began 2012.
From the staff of the Wetzel Chronicle and myself, we wish you a very Happy New Year. In the words of the late Andy Rooney, if you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it. I'll look for your smile thru the lens.