"OK, I would like riches to be able to improve any persons life I wish," I said.
"Clever," I was thinking to myself. "It fulfills the condition but if I have the riches then I can benefit me too. Very clever."
The genie looked at me with his yellow eyes. "Surely they should not be yellow, that's just weird," I thought. "But then nothing was normal about this genie experience. But then again I suppose genie experiences are not normal."
"Your wish granted it is," he said in a deep baritone voice.
"At least that part is authentic genie," I thought, "but what's with the Yoda dialect?"
"Great," I replied. "So where's the cash? In my account or is it like gold and jewels?"
Ignoring my question he continued, "And also your riches decrease never will, but increase with spending they will."
"Oh yeah Genie dude," I exclaimed in glee. "You are rocking awesome." Not sure if he got my praise as he stared unblinkingly at me. "So where's the cash G-man?" I asked repeating my question.
"Within it lies," he replied.
"Yeah Genie. That's cool. But like within what? A treasure chest? Safety deposit box? Where dude?"
"Within you it lies," he repeated fixing me with his unnerving, unblinking eyes.
"Whatcha mean man? Whatcha mean 'within me'? I'm gonna spew out gold coins or something?" I asked getting a little tired of this Yoda Genie thing. "Come on genie, just give me the cash!"
He fixed me with his yellow eyes and said, "Your wish granted it is. It kind words is," and then with a sparkle, and a strange irritating beep he simply vanished.
"You gotta be kidding me," I called out to empty space as the beeping continued. "Kind words is what I get to improve others lives? And how do my riches increase in all this? Stupid genie," I muttered, "No wonder I never believed in them." The beeping sound continued becoming more persistent.
"Oh No," I groaned as I fumbled to silence my phone next to my bed. Slowly vision retuned to my sleepy eyes and the prospect of a Monday and a whole week stretched before me. "What I way to start with crazy dreams!"
It was a really miserable, cold day as I walked the busy street heading towards the subway. Everything was gray, including my mood and those around me. Spotting a street vendor selling roasted nuts I decided I'd grab a bag to help color the dreary day. Yet it seemed that three other people had the same idea as me as I began to weave through the river of gray humanity towards the vendor. Forced to wait in the cold was doing little to improve my mood. The three other patrons gloomily placed their orders and grabbed the proffered bags of steaming nuts without any response. I don't suppose I would normally have even noticed, but when the third person did not even make eye contact with the old vendor hunched next to his wagon, I became irritated.
"Thanks old timer," I said taking the warm bag from him while beaming my best impression of a happy person at him. "We are all a little nuts today. Thanks for adding some flavor to us nuts!" It seemed he was somewhat caught by surprise by my jovial thanks but a moment later a hithertofor unseen smile cracked across his weathered face causing his watery eyes to sparkle. "You're welcome," he replied as he turned to another customer who had just arrived. Just then a slither of sun broke through the gray clouds.
The turnstiles leading to the subway were faulty, adding additional delays to my day. Two were closed and the remaining two were being manually operated, causing long lines. "Just my luck," I thought sourly.
"This is typical," a large guy with a huge tattoo of a spider on his face, was shouting at the turnstile operator. "You guys can never get this place to operate smoothly," he said jabbing his ticket under the man's face like a knife. A ripple of mumbled agreements rumbled along the line. Reaching the front I noticed the stolid, expressionless look on the operator's face as though his demeanor were chiseled in stone.
Handing my ticket to him I said, "What a way to start a week," but realized my attempt at empathy might have been misconstrued as a gripe, as he totally ignored me. As he thrust the ticket back at me I quickly added, "Thanks! At least when the tech fails we have people prepared to do these tough jobs. Much appreciated. Have a great day." He looked up making eye contact with me for the first time and nodded at me with a slight smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. I walked hurriedly towards my platform. Somehow the crowd seemed less dark, less oppressive.
The final dash towards the 22-story glass edifice that marked my destination was proceeding well. The sun seemed to be making a conserted effort to warm the day and it looked like I might not be late after all. However as I rounded the corner near my building my phone buzzed. Wresting it free from inside my coat pocket I saw it was Mom. "Oh no!" I thought. "Not now." Yet I knew if I did not answer I would not be able to speak to her until late this afternoon and that would stress her.
"Hi Mom," I said coming to a halt just outside the ornate doors that granted access to the building. "What's up?" I would be late now for sure. Before I could say any more a flood of stories about her work at the local charity shop assaulted my ears. Only the occasional "yeah" and "really" from me punctuated the monologue. Anxiously I glanced at my watch. It was getting tight. Eventually she paused for a moment, sucking in air as she gathered strength to mount the next episode. Immediately I said, "Mom. You are awesome! I don't know if I've ever told you, but your selfless work for charity is an unbelievable gift not only to the less fortunate but to your whole family. I hope one day I can show your selfless kindness."
There was silence on the other end. For a moment I thought she had been cut off. And then she said, "Really? I...I...I didn't realize. Thank you my boy. Thank you. Really? Um...Thank you. I better go. People need me. I love you," and with that she was gone. Why was I wearing a jacket? It really was turning into a beautiful warm day.
Despite needing to get to the 7th floor I took the stairs, knowing it would be quicker. Out of breath I flew into the office, discarding my bulky overcoat on Jen's desk as I landed in my rolling chair with a thump, skidding across the studio.
"Where have you been?" Jen said. "I was so worried." Suddenly she regained her composure and raising one finger and pointing to the light above me she calmly said, "30 seconds to air," as I adjusted the headset and microphone in front of me.
As my breathing steadied I turned and looked at Jen behind the glass panel in the control booth. So calm. So professional. I pressed the mute button in front of me activating the link to her. "Jen. Thank you. If it weren't for you I don't think I could do this show." A look of surprise was quickly chased away by her sunny smile. "10 seconds," she said beaming at me. "Thanks." I felt warm.
"Goooood morning KLCA 107, this is your morning treat. What an amazing day it is. Cold, you say! No way. That aint cold, that's just places that haven't been warmed by your smiles yet. So today I'm going to grant you a wish...Yes you heard right. I'm your genie and today you get a wish. You've got 30 seconds to make one wish to positively impact others lives. So...what your wish is?"
"O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people." (Psalms 105:1)
Why does God want us to do this? Is he so desperate for affirmation that he needs us, less than bug-sized beings, to shower him with praise? No, but God knows what thanking and praising does for us. This free gift, a gift that costs us nothing in giving, yet leaves us feeling enriched and happy. It is truly amazing.
Yet why is it that we give out praise and thanks and kind words so grudgingly? Why is it that we measure it out like it costs us? Why is it that we only bestow it upon those we consider exceedingly worthy. Yet if we thanked and praised, not only God, but every one of God's children whenever we got a chance, how rich we would be - how full of good things.
"From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things." (Proverbs 12:14)
Let's get rich, lets praise, let's thank without ceasing, let's change lives - our own too!
"Give, and it will be given to you." (Luke 6:38)