"it is pleasing to the dear God whenever thou rejoicest or laughest from the bottom of thy heart."
"take time to laugh; it is the music of thy soul."
-from an old english prayer book
if it is true, as martin luther said, that "you have as much faith as you have laughter," then my faith has been strong recently, or at least abundant.
because i have been laughing my rear end off.
i love to laugh, i really do, and i will probably agree with any study - scientific or not - that indicates that laughing increases productivity or longevity or accidental urination. its all true in my opinion: laughing is really good.
still, sometimes i struggle with laughter. while i laugh, i wonder about those who cannot laugh. those who are abandoned, abused, traded and used. i think of those who do not moan with laughter but with hunger pangs, with grief, and with despair. there are so many times when my laughter - as genuine and healthy as it is - echoes thin in the distance as i hear it bounce off other places where joy and mirth are nearly unknown.
i can't call it catholic guilt, since i was never catholic, but i will instead call it a healthy worldview. i understand that the world doesn't exist to make me laugh (a mistake that i think many americans seem to make these days). i understand that my laughter isn't the only song my soul needs to sing. i understand that the world needs my tears, my hands, my words of hope, my firm stand, and sometimes even the sound of my nailing my non-negotiables on the door of the church, like that laughing luther before me. the world is not a farce. but the farcical helps us see the world, understand the world, and change the world, by taking ourselves less seriously, and remembering that we are all human.
in other words: laughter is not everything, but it is really something. something necessary. something beautiful. something faithful, even. finding the courage to laugh can be a litmus test of our hope: that deep inside of us we believe that the terrible brokenness is only a shadow in the end. we can laugh because we know about victory and life. hope leads to laughter.
i say all of this about laughter today, because i have been laughing a great deal lately. shannon and i have been watching a show called "impractical jokers" on a channel called tru tv (which i didn't even know we had). it features four life-long friends from new jersey who put one another in ridiculous and embarrassing situations in public. and it is hilarious. watching this show is a full-body workout for me. at the end of the 23 minutes, i am sore from laughing so hard; my hand is bruised from pounding it on the coffee table; my children are awake because i've been stomping uncontrollably, and i can barely breath because i've launched into a asphyxiated coughing fit. in other words: it is hilarious.
look it up on you tube. impractical jokers. but be prepared to hurt for awhile. don't say i didn't warn you. and if luther was right, you can thank me for helping strengthen your faith. and remember: laughing is incredibly good for you. but it isn't the only thing. let's laugh and cry together. let's play and work together. let's experience all the goodness of this very good creation together, not just for us, but for everyone. peace.