Fr Ray Hemingray has shared his thought for today, Sunday 2nd August 2020.
I wonder if you are aware of the expression ‘wwilfing’. In case you are not, ‘wwilf’ stands for ‘What was I looking for’. ‘Wwilfing’ is what you do when you do a search on the internet and spot what looks like an interesting link to something other than the thing you wanted to search for; you land on a page with another interesting link that you follow, and this process can go on for quite some time until you eventually think to yourself, ‘What was I looking for?’
A few days ago I was wwilfing and landed on a page of national commemorative or special days. We are all familiar with special days like Mothering Sunday, Father’s Day and Armistice Day, but there are some really odd ‘Days’. For example, for those who like their food and drink, 27th July (when I started writing this reflection) was National Crème Brulée Day and also National Scotch Day. Today (2nd August) is National Colouring Book Day and also National Ice Cream Sandwich Day. The cynic in me thinks that most of these special days are thought up by people who have nothing else better to do, or else they have some ulterior commercial motive. Anyway, wwilfing on, I discovered that 20th March is the International Day of Happiness, which prompted me to think of ‘Happiness’ as my theme for today.
There is a saying: ‘Spread a little happiness’. In these difficult times, when many people are suffering from the Covid virus, and many more who are free from it are nevertheless miserable at having to spend most of their time confined to home and feeling unable to do a lot of the things they would like to do, we could really do with spreading an extra measure of happiness. Spreading a little happiness is about passing on to someone else a little of the joy and happiness with which we ourselves have been blessed. The author Mark Twain once said: “… to get the full value of a joy, you must have somebody to divide it with.” Sharing a bit of joy and happiness with someone else, and seeing their response to that sharing, can increase our own happiness too.
There are various ways of doing this. The simplest method, which costs nothing, is to make an effort to smile more at people. It evokes a happy response and can be infectious. I’ll come back to this.
Another way of bringing a bit of light into another person’s life would be to telephone someone. At the moment there are many people who are lonely or isolated as a result of the virus, and would be cheered up by a phone call. If you wanted to be generous, you could send some flowers or a box of chocolates to someone you know to be going through a particularly difficult time. Make their day.
What does the Bible tell us about happiness? The book of Ecclesiasticus (otherwise known as Sirach, and not to be confused with Ecclesiastes), in the Apocrypha section of the Bible (which not every Bible has), has much to say about happiness:
• ‘The sign of a happy heart is a cheerful face.’ (Sirach 13:26)
• ‘Happy is the person who meditates on wisdom.’ (Sirach 14:20)
• ‘Happy is the one who finds a friend’ (Sirach 25:9)
• ‘Happy is the husband of a good wife’(!) (Sirach 26:1)
• ‘Happy is the soul that fears the Lord!’ (Sirach 34:17)
There are many similar examples in the Psalms. Strangely, there is hardly an instance of the words ‘happiness’ or ‘happy’ in the New Testament (at least in the new Revised Standard Version that we use in church), but plenty of instances of the word ‘joy’. For example:
• ‘So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete’ (John 16:22-24)
• ‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.’ (John 15:11)
If we obey Jesus’s commandments, to love God and our neighbour, we will find it easy to inject a little happiness into the hearts of those of our neighbours who need cheering up in these difficult times.
So let’s make an effort to spread as much happiness as we can. I mentioned earlier that the easiest way to share a little happiness is to give everyone a smile. I leave you with a poem by the comedian Spike Milligan, who wanted to start his own pandemic to make people happy:
Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner and someone saw my grin.
When he smiled I realised I’d passed it on to him.
I thought about that smile, then I realised its worth.
A single smile, just like mine, could travel round the earth.
So, if you feel a smile begin, don’t leave it undetected.
Let’s start an epidemic quick, and get the world infected!
I hope you have a happy day. And don’t forget – Smile!