By KEITH WOMMACK — While Bob and I were waiting for an elevator at the VA Hospital in West Los Angeles, Bob began chatting with someone walking by. While the two of them were deep in conversation, a retired general stepped up and asked, “Are you with Bob?”
I said, “Yes, I’m his son-in-law.”
The general looked me in the eye, as possibly only generals can do, reached out, took hold of my shirtsleeve, and said, “That man makes life worth living.” He meant it.
A few minutes later, I helped Bob onto a bus for a ride over to another VA building. Once he was seated, the bus driver came over, started shaking his head, as possibly only bus drivers who have seen-it-all can do, and said, “He is the greatest. He always brightens my day.” He also meant it.
Robert Milne Yates, or Bob as most everyone knew him, was a walking dispensary of joy. Everywhere he went he touched lives. Perhaps, we could say that he was a healer, of sorts.
In making the case for considering Bob a healer, perhaps I should toss the findings of researchers into the mix. The physical health benefits of laughter have been reported as boosting immunity, lowering stress hormones, decreasing pain, relaxing muscles, and preventing heart disease.
Additionally, studies have shown the mental health benefits of laughter to be increased zest for life, easing of anxiety and fear, relief from stress, improved mood, and enhanced resilience.
When I think of all the people impacted by Bob’s jovial nature, it is hard for me to calculate the positive mental and physical health outcomes he may have brought about.
Bob’s affect on others raises questions about how happiness can have such an impact on health. Is happiness beneficial because happiness is a conscious spiritual state? And if happiness is spiritual, does happiness allow health to be recognized as a spiritually sound and predictable experience or condition?
Bob played drums with various orchestras before World War II. Therefore, during the war, in addition to his weapon, he carried a set of drumsticks as he and the First Armored Division Band entertained fellow soldiers in Ireland, England, North Africa, and Italy.
However, while in North Africa, Bob was injured while diving into a foxhole to avoid enemy fire. But this never stopped him from remaining active and putting smiles on other’s faces.
It was as if he innately understood that happiness is not tied to circumstances, and that we are driven to seek happiness and health, not from a material, but from a spiritual sense of life.
If health is ultimately a spiritual condition, why can’t a supreme Spirit maintain it? Spirit inspired the prophet Jeremiah to write, I will restore you to health. I will heal your wounds.” Apparently, Spirit meant it.
I realize no governing body will ever throw a posthumous doctoral degree Bob’s way. However, if you can touch the heart of a general and the soul of a bus driver, you have done some good.
Like Bob, can’t you and I spread happiness? Can’t we have a kind word for everyone and take a genuine interest in the lives of those we meet? If we care enough to express the happiness that shows life to be worth living, perhaps, we too will be healers.
– Keith Wommack is a Syndicated Columnist, Christian Science practitioner and teacher, husband, and step-dad. He has been described as a spiritual spur (since every horse needs a little nudge now and then). Keith’s columns originate at: KeithWommack.com