Smiles, words, places we need

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Why am I smiling while writing this column? Although always a labor of love, it’s sure not fun to do, and as writer Dorothy Parker once mused, “I hate writing, I love having writ.”

Does that make you smile? I hope so, and that’s what this column is first about — how the very act of smiling does soothe the brain as well as sweeten the social climate around us. And don’t we need that — and leaders who set the example. And leaders who set the example right now, above all, in Hanoi. But on the home front — everyday life, no smiling at wrongdoing or wrongdoers, of course.

But back to soothing the brain to reduce the stress, somehow this Rx never really got out there, like so much it would help us to know. And even more, about caring communication skills, which exist but again, are not “hot topics,”

So again, let me remind you of Lenox Hill Hospital’s Dr. Sarah Flannery’s most caring response to my recent accident, “I’m so very sorry this happened to you.” Needed of course are Flannery’s follow-up words, “Don’t worry, we will help you get well.” And. of course, she smiled.

Speaking of faith groups and Ash Wednesday, with ash smudges on Catholic foreheads that day, Lenten resolves should above all include using Dr. Flannery’s caring communication skills.

Again. it’s up to the leaders to set the example — this time it’s faith group leaders. And as for the smiling Rx, these leaders should remind their members to always give an acknowledging smile to those sharing their pew. You mean they don’t?

And how good it is when clergy respond with thanks to a critique, such as their faith group needs to be more involved in the lives of their congregations. I do believe the pews would be fuller if they were, and clergy never defensively said, “But we are doing this and that...”

Ah, but I am so very sorry to learn the Church of the Epiphany on York Avenue will be replaced by Weill Cornell Medical Center’s housing for medical students. Epiphany members will be relocating to the building that has housed Jan Hus Presbyterian Church (which is moving as well), but it won’t be the same, especially for longtime members. And for some it may not even be accessible. The population is aging.

But the neighborhood is also a big loser, surely Epiphany’s presence, along with its offering of public service meetings and events, will be missed. Lost is yet another public gathering place. Say that again, please. And can we afford to lose another church (or synagogue) — and with it its beacon of hope type architecture, replaced by another characterless and non-public high-rise? (Epiphany also has a back yard garden).

I don’t think so, and maybe you too believe infinitely more needs to be said and done to save, and yes, restore these public places, whose mission it is to help people be a little more caring, first in their own congregation and community — and beyond — way beyond.

No matter that they sometimes don’t live up to the love one another creed, and yes, this needs “outing” and repentance, but always remembering we can’t afford to lose the great potential for good they do. Saving faith groups can be done if enough concerned people try — no matter their belief or non-belief. So very much is at stake.

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