A time to laugh …
This week I had one of “those” days. I had a funeral at 10 a.m., which I had specifically scheduled early in the day so that I could run over to Clergy Day with the diocesan clergy, hoping to fit in a few hours with colleagues. Of course, the day before it snowed and iced, and the schools were on a two-hour delay. My older child would need to board the bus at the exact same time the funeral was to begin. So with lots of help and rearranging, I managed to figure out a way to take my younger child to childcare by 9, bring the older one back to church with me while I set up the funeral, and then have a parishioner take her to the bus stop while I began the service. Perfect plan! Of course, that is not exactly how it played out. As I was loading bags in the car, I discovered a small bird in the garage. Then, as I was doing a last-minute pumping, my infant started crying inconsolably. Then my older child could not find her favorite snow books and also began crying. Once I managed to get everyone in the car and to nursery school, we found out the director was stuck in traffic and school would be opening 10 minutes late.
That was the point at which I started laughing. I have no idea why, but suddenly my whole morning just seemed comical – hilarious really. I kept laughing. Despite my older daughter’s confusion about why I was laughing so hard, she started laughing too. Somehow the stress of the morning lifted. Despite all my scurrying around nothing could keep this day on track – and through unbridled laughter, that reality was suddenly okay.
Laughter has a sacred place in my life. One of my favorite activities with my husband is watching stand-up comedy. Though we have pretty different senses of humor, when we find a comedian who can make us both laugh, it is more precious than gold. And although he regularly laughs at things I deem inappropriate for humor, his belly laughs make it impossible for me to stifle a smile. At other times, you can find my husband, older daughter, and me huddled around the baby trying to get laughs out of her – which of course lead to our own laughs. When my older child and I get into a struggle of wills, I have found laughter to be the key to unlocking the tension and setting us back on track. In fact, just the other day, as I was struggling to get her out of bed, for some reason I started making funny faces at my daughter. She started giggling, which got me giggling. Before I knew it, she was out of bed and we were having one of the more pleasant mornings we have had in a while.
Laughter is gift of the Spirit. I think of the many times that laughter comes up in scripture. When God tells Abraham that Sarah will bear a son in her old age, she laughs. In fact, their son’s name, Isaac, means “he laughs.” Ecclesiastes proclaims that there is a time for everything, “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” (3.4) Even in Luke’s beatitudes, Jesus says, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” (6.21) I think God longs for us to have more laughter in our life. Through our laughter, we get a glimpse of the unbridled joy of God – a joy that can fill our entire bodies. I invite you this week to make some space for laughter. My guess is that you will find God there, too.