“Mom, I didn’t know you could be so silly,” my daughter said awhile back. We were in the midst of a painful season, but I knew what I needed most: more laughter.
It was the year I chose “joy” as my theme word that I looked for laughter in the small spaces of my life.
We laughed through tickle fights, basketball games in the driveway, impromptu dance parties on Sunday evenings, and silly photos on vacation.
According to Anne Lamott, laughter is “carbonated holiness.”
When we drove to a state park this winter, we discovered a display in the lobby that included a toboggan and a fake pine tree background.
“What is this for?” I asked.
“Pictures,” my family responded.
Pretty soon, we climbed onto the display, seeing how many ways we could “ride” the toboggan, including backwards, lying down, and standing up.
We snapped pictures and howled with laughter. I’m pretty sure it was only funny to us.
To our surprise, we found that laughter began to have a trickle-down effect. We laughed more in our marriage, with our daughter and through our mistakes.
It’s all good and holy–this laughter that heals us from the pain.
Learning to Laugh Through the Pain
We can’t avoid life’s minor chords–the dissonant strains of musical melancholy. But in the midst of a dirge, we must find a new rhythm, one that echoes both the pain and the joy of life.
As Erma Bombeck says,
“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”
If we spend all our time listening to a dirge, life will always be a funeral and never a celebration.
So if Jesus-followers are supposed to be a bunch of loud-mouthed rejoicers, then what’s happened to our celebration? Why are we singing so many dirges instead?
Laughter is what we need in the dark night—in hospitals, chemotherapy rooms and grief groups.
When we laugh with people who have walked through our darkest hours, who have seen us in holey sweatpants and bad hair and still laugh with us—not at us—that’s a carbonated holy moment.
Laughter is sacred space, says Ted Schwartz, because in those moments, we can taste a bit of heaven in the here and now.
We realize how much more laughter must be on the Other Side, when all things are made new and our hearts are flung wide open with nothing to hinder them.
So here’s my resolve: If laughter is a glimpse into the eternal, then let me live with more open-hearted joy.
Let the laughter heal the scars.
Let me laugh in the company of others–the balm of good medicine settling on our earthly wounds, as I lean into you, our laughter ringing into the night like a song only you and I can hear.