I love this picture that recently appeared on Facebook. It could be and my sister last night while we waited for election returns. But when I first saw it last week I was reminded that when tsunamis hit Saipan we’d pull the storm shutters and hunker down with friends. Of course we’d tell stories.
One of the stories I tell happened maybe 30 years ago. I, my Silly Old Fool, and another friend were at a week-end Ilana Rubenfeld workshop in the Chicago area. It was a serious training event in techniques identifying and releasing those places in our bodies where emotions stick, causing us pain and sometimes lasting disability.
Each day before we left the work Ilana turned on the music and we danced our hearts out. I jitterbugged a lot with a young skinny man who taught at Second City. He encouraged me to let myself go so he could toss me over his hip in the middle of a twirl. I’d seen people do this but I’d never danced with someone who trusted himself, or me, enough to try the move. Oh, we had fun!
One night 6 of us went out to dinner at a small restaurant. We talked loud and laughed a lot. One thing led to another and next thing we were all hunched under the table laughing even harder. An older couple was leaving the restaurant when the wife stopped and said to us something like “I wish I could join you.” Her husband, in a gloomy and not too subtle way told her he was leaving! She turned to us and gave a rather sad, fluttery goodbye and left with him.
While I was working on my Psychology degree one of my favorite classes was the Bible as Literature. I could have listened to Dr. Vass read all day – in fact I fantasized about his reading to me and me alone. I remember him reading “and G-d laughed” after Abraham and Sarah laughed at learning Sarah was pregnant.
The book of Proverbs offers us a privileged look inside the mystery of God in the work of creation, which is always happening, even now. “Then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always” (Prov. 8:30). The word for “rejoicing” in this text is the Hebrew word sachaq, which means “to laugh” or “to play.” So, here we catch a stunning glimpse of God at play in creation. Quite literally, we were created in playful laughter. http://geographyofgrace.com/ws/street-psalms-press/spiritual-formation.php
I was thinking this blog might be inappropriate due to the suffering of many throughout the country – how can we laugh with all that is happening? Anne Lamotte recently wrote in her crazy, funny, serious way, “it’s okay to be sad, scared, mad about non-Sandy things.” And I add it’s okay to laugh in the midst of all this discomfort. My Silly Old Fool and I last laughed together a few weeks ago about events that took place that night as she sat with a friend who died with her at his side.
This is not a joke; we are all being taken into God’s laughter. Yes, there are immense hurts and horrible injustices and yes, God’s laughter is comingled with tears, but not all of the world is an open wound. We are more than our wounds. There is something deeper at the center of it all. All of the wisest mothers and fathers of the faith called that “something” Joy, into which all of creation is being taken now. (Adapted from the book, Geography of Grace: Doing Theology From Below.)
I am bound to friends near and far remembering the gift of laughter during very tough times. Today amidst the east coast destruction and tough political times I wish each of us the gift of laughter.