Laughter, Seriously

IMG_9678_Laughter_500I accomplished an archaeological dig through the stuff on my desk this week, and found this treasure: “Laughter is God’s hand on the shoulder of a troubled world.”

My sister had given me this little mini-plaque a long time ago. I had stuck it on the front of the wooden box that holds my scissors and hole punches, handy to look at anytime. No surprise, it’s always there; but suddenly, today, I SAW it! And, with my mind almost as clear as my desk, it got me thinking.

Laughter! I’ve frequently been told, “it doesn’t take much to amuse you!” Well, life is so full of ironies, quirks, and funny twists, that it’s hard to stay serious all the time, especially when I peer into my own (figurative) mirror. The conversation between Serious-Myself and Funny-Bone-Myself goes something like this:

“You’re laughing again? O good grief!
You’re hysterical beyond belief!”–
“Well, ‘midst all your sighing
And groaning and “why?”-ing
I’m desperate for comic relief!”

Life needs comic relief! Even in a Shakespearean tragic play (it’s just fiction— you could simply shut your eyes and ears, and the problems would be over), even there, the playwright therapeutically injects little doses of comic relief as a break from the drama’s emotional intensity.

These doses don’t detract from the seriousness of the play; in fact, they allow the audience to address the tragic aspects with better focus and frame of mind. Wisdom will know when to prescribe squirts of quirky or bubbly humour, or dole out drops of dry wit. My mom used to say “Humour is when you laugh anyway.”

But the most satisfying kind of laughter, the kind that refreshes you in a deep way, comes bubbling out of joy. I think this is where “God’s hand on a troubled world” comes in. God’s hand is in his love and grace to us, which imparts peace, enables us to love others, lets us find refreshment in the beauty of nature, and leads us to joy. Often it takes us a while, through the hurdles of everyday life, to recognize this.

This laughter is full of delight and innocence, like the freedom of running carefree with the wind across an open field, splashing barefoot in a creek, dipping quietly in a sunset-rippled lake, breathing deep gulps of fresh mountain air, experiencing vistas of wide desert, endless ocean, rugged mountains, or marvelling over the tiny hummingbird sipping nectar from a trumpet vine. Or it is a very still kind of laughter, internal, where peace slips quietly into the heart like the sunrise.

It’s the laughter of relief between loving friends who, together, have just cried their deepest anguish into the open and found forgiveness and reconciliation, or mutual understanding and support.

Laugh so hard you have to cry; cry so hard you have to laugh.


PS: Thanks, Sis!

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