I opened my door to welcome guests coming for dinner on Christmas Day and was greeted by the saddest face.
“I know this will be funny someday, but I’m not there yet. You know the dessert I offered to bring? The one that your husband will love and that I spent hours making?”
I looked about and noticed she wasn’t carrying anything…
“Well, the dog jumped on the counter and ate the whole thing while I was drying my hair.”
I found the latest episode of misbehavior by Russell, the large overly-enthusiastic mixed breed puppy, to be quite amusing. She and her husband got there eventually.
A mother of a medically fragile child shared with me that in her home humor has become the gold standard of how well they are coping. “Is it funny yet? If it’s not funny yet, then you know it’s bad.”
Truthfully, humor does surprise us at odd times, times that are so out of sync with whatever is going on at the moment we feel a little, dare I say, nutty. A little twinge of guilt reaches up and tugs your sleeve, “You shouldn’t be laughing,” it whispers, “What’s wrong with you?”
Well, nothing. Laughter is part of coping. A proverb wisely notes, “Even in laughter the heart is sad, (Proverbs 14:13 NRS). I recall watching Saturday Night Live when it went back on the air after September 11, 2001. The iconic New York City show at the heart of the greatest grief of the nation opened with first responders standing near Paul Simon as he sang The Boxer. SNL producer Lorne Michaels asked of New York City Mayor Rudolf Guliani, “Can we be funny?” To which the mayor relied, “Why start now?” There is a line between grief and humor. When is it okay to cross it?
Laughter is a healing balm, even when it pops up at odd times. Jesus promises, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” (Luke 6:21 NRS) It is okay to be surprised by humor in the hard places.
One of the dearest memories I have of my grandmother’s final days were of her organizing her own funeral. A detail person to the end, she had everything prepared exactly how she wanted it. She laid back in her hospital bed, a look of contentment spread across her face. “Oh! It will be lovely! When is it going to be?”
Awkward sideways glances passed between my mom and her sister. My mom apparently drew the short straw, “Well, Mom, that is sort of up to you. You know. Whenever you, um, get around to it.”
Everyone burst out laughing.
There are some things in life that will never, ever, ever be funny. But the gift of a little humor in the hard places helps us get through.
Healing God, Thank you for the gift of laughter that surprises us in unexpected ways. Thank you for tears of joy and laughing until our stomachs hurt and we can’t breathe. Thank you for healing us when our hearts hurt and we need relief. Amen.
Rev Doc Lorna
Developmental Disabilities Fellow
Hope and Healing Center & Institute
Photo “Laugh or Cry Signpost” by Stuart Miles Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net