By Valerie Minard
Every morning, rain or shine, eighty-five year-old Johnny Barnes, stands at a busy Bermuda round-about for 5-6 hours and shouts to passer-bys, “Have a good day! I love you!” Some may think he’s a crack pot. But, not to local Bermudians, who have come to think of him as a national treasure who has showered them with love for over twenty years. In appreciation, a statue of him was erected — only one of two on the island and you can see it in this Youtube video.
Why does he do this? Barnes, who is a Seventh-Day Adventist, says “I’m a little and small instrument in the hand of God to be used any way he sees fit….This is the one way I’m trying to use the one talent God has given me by making people happy. If each individual in this whole wide world would try to make one person happy, what a wonderful world this would be.”
While some experts may attribute healthy senior years to eating right, keeping an active mind and body, staying close to friends and family, or having a sense of humor, others are recognizing the importance of maintaining a divine connection as one of the key ingredients.
Indeed, Barnes is probably one example, among many, of how spirituality and/or religion can improve health and longevity. According to a 2007 survey taken by the National Institute of Health, 56% of 2000 practicing US physicians believed that religion and spirituality had health benefits– especially as it relates to helping patients cope with illness; giving them a positive attitude; and giving them emotional and practical support within their religious community.
But it may go even further than that, as in the case of Barnes. By living out the Biblical command of loving his neighbor as himself, he’s reaping the fruits of sharing that love– not only in helping others feel loved, but also feeling that love himself which makes him healthy and happy.
Perhaps, we all can benefit from Barnes’ example and take time to say each day to our ourselves, our friends and our family, “Have a good day! I love you!”; then, experience how it not only lifts our day but our life as well.