Turn Over A New Leaf
—New Year's Day
The Psalmist Truly Says that "A Merry Heart Maketh a Cheerful Countenance."
THE LESSON—That the wearing of a gloomy countenance is unpardonable and that "the smile that won't come off" is the kind that ought to come on.
Laughter is catching. The following chalk talk will capture an audience and bring genuine smiles as nothing else, perhaps, in this book. It has been prepared for that purpose. While it is arranged here as especially appropriate for the beginning of the new year, it may be used with varying applications on many other occasions.
"There is a good deal of consolation in the words of Cowper, who truly declares that
"'The path of sorrow, and that path alone,
Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown.'
"Nevertheless, most of us ask for as little real sorrow as possible while we are treading the pathway that leads to eternal peace.
[It is advisable to begin the drawing of Fig. 17 at this point, and continue the talk as the picture develops. It is suggested that the eyes be drawn first, then the mouth and nose, and, finally, the outer portions. It adds to the effect, too, to stop drawing at this point, allowing the people to study carefully the dull, gloomy expression of the face. Then, as if to put on the finishing touches, draw the lines of the forehead. These, of course, are the lines of the nose and mouth of the reversed face, but the audience will not suspect the 'trick' until it is revealed.]
"And yet, to judge from the way some of us act and look, it would seem that we rather enjoy a protracted case of the miseries! Some folks begin to fret as soon as they are out of bed in the morning; the early day brings its worries and cares, the noontide and the afternoon are filled with problems, and night finds them all fagged out and longing to take rest in sleep so as to get into condition to repeat the round of sorrows and cares which they are preparing for themselves for the next day. Little jealousies, petty rivalries, senseless envyings and useless fears bring wrinkles of care, which are very unbecoming; and, before we are aware of it, the years have overtaken us, and we advertise our inner selves by this outward kind of sign. [Display Fig. 17 complete. This finishes the drawing of both scenes or figures, since the second part is merely an inverting of Fig. 17.]
"But, friends, you know, and I know, that all this—or most of it—is all foolishness. We know that 'as a man thinketh in his heart so is he.' If he thinks gloomy things, he will be a gloomy man. If he thinks glad things, he will be a happy man. So, let us consider this matter now at the beginning of the new year. Strange to say, smiling is a serious thing! It affects our influence, it means much to the happiness of those about us, it has a direct connection with the state of our health, and, therefore, with our material prosperity. It is true, of course, that we are bound to have our little annoyances and our depressing sorrows as we go through life; but, surely, we can avoid most of the troubles which keep us unhappy if we will but lift our thoughts above ourselves and employ our time in seeking to comfort and brighten the lives of those about us. Happiness is largely a habit, and we can do no better than to 'get the habit" and let others catch it from us.
"Let us learn the truth that peace of mind is health to the body, and that it is worth more than we ever imagine. Joy is essential to the truly Christlike life. When the angel proclaimed to the shepherds, 'Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people,' you and I were included, and we have not accepted that message of great joy, and Christ abides not in us if we do not reflect the sunlight which has come from above.
"And so I am going to ask that we join together today in 'turning over a new leaf.' What do I mean? Simply this: To meet our troubles fairly and squarely, grasp them firmly and then completely overturn them; when lo! we shall find their threatenings, their warnings and their fearful aspects shall have faded away, and brightness and peace shall have taken their place. [At the beginning of this paragraph grasp the drawing at the bottom, tear it loose from the top, and hold it up before the audience, inverted, as in Fig. 18.]
"Truly, 'a merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance.' May yours remain so throughout the new year and ever after."
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