Smile please!

Day Total (mixed): 5 hours working then a visit to the Dentists!
Overall Total: 476.75 miles, 388 locks
Distance to Newbury: 0.6 miles on foot!

Yes, you read correctly – a visit to the Dentists – but more about that later.

The day started early – 3am early to be precise.  One of those days when you are wide awake and haven’t got a clue why – no I didn’t have a coffee late, no I didn’t have a nap the day before, just 3am wide awake.

I lay in bed for the better part of an hour and half, listening to a talking book and determinedly being wide awake so I decided to get up and get on with my sabbatical work.  I was rewarded with 5 very productive hours and a beautiful sunrise!

It was warm in the boat for what seemed the first morning since we arrived on the boat back in March.

I had some breakfast and realised VERY quickly that the temporary filling that had come out of a tooth yesterday afternoon was causing more problems than I’d expected.  It was aching, but whenever I tried to eat on that side the pain was excruciating.  Don’t worry Pip –  I don’t think it was the Lasagne that did it!!

Our lovely dentist, Anna, is 180 miles away, so I rang NHS 111.  Who then told me to ring the out of hours service.  I told the lady that I was in Newbury but my home address was Doncaster.  She told me they were in Berkshire and couldn’t help people in Doncaster.  I took a deep breath and explained again!!! She then told me to ring a local dentist (less than half a mile away from the boat.  They fitted me in an hour and half later.

So just after 12 I had an x-ray – fine – and they removed the chunk of filling that had jammed between the teeth and the gum (hence the pain) and replaced the temporary filling.  Just after half past 12 I walked out of the surgery with my jaw numb (I loathe that sensation) but in no pain.

I love the NHS – I love the fact that being hundreds of miles away from home I was still covered.  I love the fact that 7 day a week there are people who are ready to put right what goes wrong.  People who like the lovely dentist Liz from Baldev’s Dental Care go out of their way to be friendly, kind and helpful.  She was just as lovely as Anna – a real blessing.  I love the fact that our health care is free at the point of use.  We need to fight for the NHS.

I joined the folk at St Nics for lunchtime prayer joining with Christians across the country praying for the Church, our families and for the country at the urging of ++Justin and ++Sentamu, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.  Afterwards I heard about the local Churches Together group which is flourishing – a monthly prayer breakfast that Jacquie and I were part of founding now includes everyone not just ministers, and the ministers across the town also meet for lunch and to pray and encourage one another.  It’s a little bit like finding that an apple pip that you had a small part in planting 18 years ago is now an orchard – bearing much fruit.  It made me smile!

Back to the boat to sleep off the local anaesthetic and then I’m off out for dinner with friends tonight.  So, today’s pictures?





Smiles.  I’ve been waiting to share this thought for weeks. What triggered it today was a comment on the Baldev’s Dental Care website.  Their lead dentist wrote this…

“Enhancing smiles is my passion”  –  Dr Vishnu Mistry

Over the last two months I’ve smiled at a lot of people.  It’s the done thing on the canal to smile and wave at a fellow boater (unless they are going past you too fast when you are moored then you are allowed to scowl as the wash from their boat bangs yours into the side!).  Being a Yorkshireman I was brought up in a community where you smiled at people when you passed them, whether you knew them or not.

It can be really strange.  You walk towards some people who look angry, sad, cross, depressed or isolated.  I have found something that can transform the way that people look.  It isn’t a make-up, or a disguise.

It’s a smile!

When you smile at someone, and they smile back, their face is transformed.  There are some people you can see change and they walk on less upset or stressed.  It is utterly miraculous what a smile can do.  It’s like watching the sun pop out from behind a cloud.

And then I found this beautiful verse in the book of Job.

When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it;
    the light of my face was precious to them

Job chapter 29 verse 24

It is utterly fascinating that the book of Job, which is about trusting in God even through immense suffering, is the only book in the Bible which uses the word “Smile” – in fact three times.

I love the idea that “The light of my face was precious to them”.

Is the light of your face precious?  Or like me does your face default to grumpy?

Try it!  Try walking around town or work being aware of what your face looks like.  Have a smile, and you might find that the light of your face is precious to folk too.

And then came up trumps – it suggested another Bible verse to link to these three that used the word smile.  It is a favourite of mine – in fact one that a dear friend from All Saints Church wrote in the card she put with a small stash of Star Wars Chocolate and Star Wars tissues that she sent me off on sabbatical with.

‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace.’

Numbers chapter 6 verses 24 to 26

I had never thought of it that way – that to make your face shine on someone is to smile at them.  This is a blessing that asks God to smile at people.

Go on!  Be blessed and be a blessing!  SMILE!


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