Some of you know that back when I was in seminary, I was told by a fellow student that I laughed too much to be able to do ministry. And most of you know that I do indeed laugh a great deal – and loudly! Many people say that they can hear me coming down the hall because of my laugh…
So you might imagine that it is with some consternation that I read yesterday, “The tenth step of humility is that we are not given to laughter” (p. 94). Oh dear – presumably I am not humble in any way then, or at least I have no outward sign of that.
Thank goodness for Joan Chittister’s reminder that humour and laughter are not the same thing. She writes, “Humour gives us the strength to bear what cannot be changed and the sight to see the human under the pompous.”
I like to think that is what I am doing with my laughter. Back when the critique was made in seminary, my defense was “Laughter is what will allow me to keep doing ministry!” And I continue to think that is true in much of my life – laughter, and the ability to see the ridiculous nature of so much, has often been what has sustained me.
Of course, not all my laughter is that. Sometimes, it is a nervous laughter – I do not know what is going on nor how to change/help the situation, so I laugh. Sometimes it is a cruel laughter – a deliberate laughing at someone (and a need for confession later). Sometimes it is a tired, almost manic laughter – I cannot really cope with anything any more so I laugh.
But mostly (I hope), I laugh because I want to affirm what is still good, to see what is still possible, despite the worst of circumstances.
And in that laughter there is a humility. Because I am not the one in charge, nor the ultimate judge. I am one small person who loves G-d’s world and G-d’s people – and a good joke!
And what about you? when do you laugh? and is it good?!